Valério, Geraldo. Blue Rider. Geraldo Valério, Illus. Picture Book. Groundwood, 03/2018. pp. $19.95. 978-1-55498-981-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.
Blue Rider is a paean to a book; in fact, it could be a paean to itself since the cover image features the blue rider child on a blue horse carrying this book on blue-horseback. This wordless book begins in a cityscape of buildings predominantly and repetitively gray, tan, and brown but with accents of turquoise and blue. Crowds of people appear going every which way. The blue rider child carries her blue backpack (the most dimensional thing in an otherwise mostly flat world) through the crowds. She is shocked to find a book on the ground with a blue horse on the cover; then she is pleased and takes it home to her room in a gray, tan, and brown building. When she comes to a page with the blue horse, it takes off and flies through the city, now containing more colorful flat shapes of color, some seemingly made of torn paper. Color continues to burst gorgeously onto the two-page spreads, magnifying until they are mostly abstractions. Still the horse, now with the girl riding, flies on; and the girl is smiling and smiling, now back in her bed, perhaps having dreamt it all? But the final spreads continue to contain color shapes highlighting an otherwise drabbish cityscape. The illustrations are, of course, the story and do a fine job telling it. Valério has been inspired by The Blue Rider German Expressionist group, which formed in Munich in 1911 and included wonderful, but dissimilar, painters such as Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky: they found the spiritual in art with special emphases on color and form. Valério’s story continues these thoughts through the art of a children’s picture book, helping us transform our often dull world into something brighter, larger, and more joyous.
Alan Bern, Berkeley Public Library