“Bedrock” is a short story from Annie Proulx’s collection Heart Songs, published 1999. This is a subversive feminist tale, which challenges the readers assumptions about ‘gold-digger’ women and especially those we dismiss as ‘rednecks’.
Gray, the color we attach to characterless people, often suggests bleakness, lack of intensity, a cool detachment. The oppressively predominating gray of the stone walls surrounding Snow White’s mother in Burkert’s picture of her demands our detachment from her but also contrasts with the vibrantly colored patterns we see surrounding her as we look through her window into her room; perhaps as a foreshadowing of her daughter’s fate, she is a small spot of lively beauty in an otherwise bleak and forbidding world. In Inter-city, the wordless story of a train trip, Charles Keeping creates a similar relationship between what can be seen around a window and what can be seen through it. The feeling of boring detachment in the predominantly brownish grey pictures of passengers on a train contrasts with the vibrant colors of the world outside the train’s windows, which the passengers ignore. The contrast between the monochrome of the passenger pictures and the rich colours of the window pictures supports the central theme of the book: we see the passengers as they themselves see the world, and we see the richness of the world they miss because they do not bother to look at it.
– Words About Pictures, Perry Nodelman
and below is an interior image from Inter-City.
Most of these greys have a hue to them. Yellow greys, orange greys… Then there is completely desaturated grey.
Forest green makes an interesting accent colour against grey — it’s more often something bright like yellow.
Critics love Maurice Sendak. For a lot of academic stuff about Where The Wild Things Aresee here.
For a post on The Picturebooks of Chris Van Allsburgh see here.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen shows that toddlers can cope with the horror genre.
“Jon Klassen’s darkly humorous illustrations are a joy to behold. Deceptively simplistic, the expressions and events that he captures, which range from the sublime to the sinister, are utterly wonderful.”
– The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal judges’ commentary
Someone on Goodreads called this a “hard-boiled crime thrillers for toddlers”. This is fairly apt description! Below I will refer to a number of 1 and 2 star reviews of this book on Goodreads, because these reviewers say something interesting about what adults think is good for children, and what should be kept from them. Committees who award big prizes are a lot less conservative than many book buyers, but I fear it’s the book buyers who drive the market.
How does the colour of the sky throughout Hilda Bewildered give clues about the time of day, the plot sequence and the difference between Princess Hilda’s reality versus the imagined scenes?
Highlight below for some answers.
Golden — The story opens with a wintry dusk.
As nightfall comes, the sky looks green through the dining hall window.
The blue sky from Hilda’s imaginary airship is a cerulean, unlikely sort of blue. This is also the blue of the screens which appear throughout the story — the detectives’ computer screen, the view through the security cameras. Events behind a screen are not real for the viewer (even though real for the characters depicted), just as Hilda’s imaginary world of unnaturally blue sky is also one-removed from reality.
The sky of the grimy city is a browny yellow, to contrast with the golden colour surrounding the palace — an oasis of riches.
As the taxi moves into the forest the sky turns blacker and blacker as Hilda finds her way into her mental cave (and eventually to a basement in an abandoned hotel in the middle of a dark forest).
But on the final page the sky is back to dusky yellow, because The Other Hilda is wholly imagined: It is still sunset and Hilda has yet to make her speech. As she makes the speech she imagines she is talking to tussock rather than to a daunting crowd of people. From the stage, though, she sees nothing but bright lights.
Brainstorm some ideas/themes which are commonly symbolised by the colour green in storytelling and in pop-culture.
There are many different shades of green. Do different shades of green suggest different meanings?
Do a Google image search for green movie posters (by going to advanced search and setting the colour to green). After looking at a large number of green movie posters, what kinds of stories are associated with green?
Princess Hilda’s ring is emerald green. What does the colour green symbolise in Hilda Bewildered?
Highlight the text below for some answers.
THE FOREST: This is common in myths/legends/fairytales. This is connected to the female principle/The Great Mother. Vegetable life thrives in a forest, free from any control or cultivation. Princess Hilda’s life is so regimented she craves freedom. Foliage excludes sunlight, so the forest is considered in opposition to the sun’s power. The forest symbolises the unconscious. Jung said that the sylvan terrors that figure so prominently in children’s tales symbolise the perilous aspects of the unconscious. Houses and cultivated lands are safe areas but the forest harbours all sorts of dangers and demons, enemies and diseases. (Zimmer). The forest in this tale contrasts with the manicured garden at the Royal Palace: subdued, ordered, selected, enclosed.
LIFE AND DEATH: Green is the colour of life; it is also the colour of death (of gangrenous corpses). Death is represented by black through the greenish shades up to a typically bright green colour, after which it symbolises life. Giving a speech in front of many people feels like a life and death situation for the princess. Life and death are opposites, as are the princess and her alter ego. A forest is full of life, but for an ill-equipped girl, it also means danger and death.
THE MIDDLE PLACE: Green takes the middle place in the everyday scale of colours. Green is an intermediate, transitional colour spanning between the two groups of ‘advancing’ colours and ‘retreating colours’. (This is because it is mixed from blue, a retreating colour, and yellow, an advancing one.) The Other Hilda lives in the shadows of society (a retreating character) but she would like to advance socially – she just has no idea how to go about it. This is impossible for a girl in her position with her plain looks.
Green can also be associated with the ghostly/uncanny, with peace, growth, branching out, turning over a new leaf, imagination.