Amandina Goldeneyes can "dance, and sing, and act beautifully, and perform the most daring acrobatics," but she is so shy no one realizes what a wonderful little dog she is. One evening Amandina decides to cure her shyness by giving a performance and inviting everyone. The floppy-eared Amandina rents a run-down theater, repairs and cleans it, designs and sews her own costumes, builds sets and props, sends out invitations and advertises, each activity depicted in cunning vignettes and framed panels. She dreams she will be a great success. Come opening night, Amandina is excited and nervous, but unprepared for an empty theater. Undaunted, she performs her prologue, comic pantomime, band concert, folk songs, dances, magic act and acrobatic finale as planned. And when she takes her bow, she has a wonderful surprise. Quiet, precise, whimsical watercolor illustrations in subdued pastels enhance the surreal ambiance of Amandina's solitary exploits. A subdued but charming tribute to determination and perseverance.
There is a very specific feeling you get from a picture book when the combination of text and image is pitch perfect. (…) I mention this because I’m trying to find a way to explain why Amandina by Sergio Ruzzier is as delicately miraculous as it is. (…) Charm is impossible to teach, ridiculously hard to learn on your own, and money in the bank. Amandina also happens to have it in spades (doggy puns unintended). I don’t go for the whole “be yourself” motto unless you can sell the idea to me in a beautiful tale. Sergio Ruzzier has done just that. If you’ve never read one of his books before, this is an ideal place to start.
Ruzzier creates a haunting intimacy with his watercolors of a centuries-old Italian town (the theater is a tiny Umbrian jewel) and its strangely human-eyed animal citizens, as well as his unvarnished language ("Nobody had come. Sometimes these things happen, and nobody can say why"). Showing a magical insight into the imagination of small children, he allows Amandina an intense sweep of feeling before granting her no less-but no more-than her wish. The mood he casts will resonate, particularly with introspective readers.
School Library Journal
The artwork combines delicate lines and faded colors to create a fanciful stage for this likable character.
|© Copyright 2006, Sergio Ruzzier. All rights reserved.|