Wednesday, March 10, 2010

David Macaulay: Author and Illustrator Who Explains Just About Everything

--by Hanje Richards
David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a doze
n languages. Macaulay has garnered numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, an American Institute of Architects Medal, and the Washington Post–Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, given "to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations." Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books. David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.
Black and White
- At first glance, this is a collection of four unrelated stories, eac
h occupying a quarter of every two-page spread, and each a slight enough tale to seem barely worth a book -- a boy on a train, parents in a funny mood, a convict's escape, and a late commuter train. The magic of Black and White comes not from each story, however, but from the mysterious interactions among them that creates a fifth story. Several motifs linking the tales are immediately apparent, such as trains -- real and toy -- and newspapers. A second or third reading reveals suggestions of the title theme: Holstein cows, prison uniform stripes. Eventually, the stories begin to merge into a surrealistic tale spanning several levels of reality, e.g., Are characters in one story traveling on the toy train in another? Answers are never provided -- this is not a mystery or puzzle book. Instead, Black and White challenges the reader to use text and pictures in unexpected ways.
- The word itself conjures up mystery, romance, intrigue, and grandeur. What could be more perfect for an author/illustrator who has continually stripped away the mystique of architectural structures that have long fascinated modern man? With typical zest and wry sense of humor punctuating his drawings, David Macaulay traces the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town. Brick by brick, tool by tool, worker by worker, we witness the methodical construction of a castle through exquisitely detailed pen-and-ink illustrations. Children who love to know how things work especially appreciate Macaulay's passion for process and engineering. Moats, arrow loops, plumbing, dungeons, and weaponry are all explained in satisfying detail.
Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction - Text and detailed drawings follow the planning and construction of a magnificent Gothic cathedral in the imaginary French town of Chutreaux during the thirteenth century. Cathedral starts in 1252, when the people of a fictitious French town decide to build a cathedral after their existing church is struck by lightning. We meet the craftspeople, examine the tools, study their cathedral plans, and watch the laying of the foundation. Week by week, we witness the construction of this glorious temple to God. Macaulay intuitively hones in on the details about which we are the most curious: How were those enormously high ceilings built and decorated? How were those 60-foot-high windows made and installed in the 13th century? And how did people haul those huge, heavy bells up into the skyscraper-high towers? Thanks to Macaulay's thorough, thoughtful tribute to the Gothic cathedral, not a stone, turret, or pane of stained glass is left unexamined or unexplained.
- Exquisitely crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations frame the engaging fictional st
ory of an ancient pharaoh who commissions a pyramid to be built for him. With great patience and respect for minute detail (not unlike the creators of the early pyramids), Macaulay explains the sometimes backbreaking tasks of planning, hauling, chiseling, digging, and hoisting that went into the construction of this awe-inspiring monument. Just when the narrative teeters on the edge of textbook doldrums, Macaulay brings us back to the engaging human drama of death and superstition. This respectful blending of architecture, history, and mysticism will certainly satiate pyramid-passionate children as well as their obliging parents.
Rome Antics
- A pigeon carrying an important message takes the reader on a unique tour throu
gh Rome. As we follow the path of this somewhat wayward bird, we discover that Rome is a place where past and present live side by side. It is a city that has been recycling itself for two thousand years, but unlike a museum, Rome displays its remarkable history without respect for chronology. A new electric bus travels over cobblestone streets just ten feet above the floor of an ancient stadium. Inscriptions from tombs and temples share wall space with neon. Every time a corner is turned there is a surprise, just as every turn of the page brings a new perspective. This juxtaposition of ancient and modern, as seen with David Macaulay's ingenious vision, gives the reader an imaginative and informative journey through this wondrous city.
The Way Things Work - From levers to lasers, from cameras to computers, this 384-page volume is a remarkable overview of the machines and inventions that shape our lives, amusingly presented with a large dose of Macaulay's wit and personality. A book to be treasured as both a browsing item and as a gold mine of reference information Gorgeous line drawings in Macaulay's familiar style, enhanced with watercolors, combine with virtually encyclopedic coverage of how things work to create this absolutely captivating look at the world's technology. Subjects are arranged into four broad categories: units on mechanical devices (simple machines, friction); the use of the elements (wind, water, heat), waves (light and sound); and electronics include both the immense (space shuttles) and the miniscule (an automobile's thermostat).
The Way We Work: Getting To Know The Amazing Human Body
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his is an outstanding guide to the human body from one of the world's great illustrators! Ever wondered how we breathe, or why? Or what happens to broccoli once your teeth have finished with it? Or how your eyes turn at the same time and in the same direction? Most of us don't stop to think about the countless everyday tasks our bodies perform automatically while we get on with our lives. And yet of all the complex things we encounter as we go through life, our bodies are probably the most remarkable of all...Explore everything from bones to bronchioles, noses to neurons in this clear, comprehensive and utterly engaging guide to the human body from award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay. David Macaulay's research took several years, during which he sat in on anatomy classes, dissections and numerous operations.