The unique and stark illustrations, created in highly textured layers of paint and paper, are gallery-worthy ... This book is a work of art.
This haunting story from Hans Christian Andersen medalist Mello, sensitively translated by Hahn, explores the life of a Brazilian child laborer who tends a domed oven in which wood is burned to make charcoal ... The story is narrated by a sharp-eyed hornet (who) ... watches the boy at work as he dodges labor inspectors and tussles with a companion over a cigarette. Mello uses dingy grays and blacks to depict the boy’s surroundings, but when the precious cigarette starts a brush fire, hot pink and orange die-cut pages create a conflagration in the book’s center ... Mello’s distinctive work burns with poetic truth.
Elegant linework mixes with torn paper and soft, textured colors as a parade of luminous, exotic caricatures and their accoutrements unfold . . . the effect is magical. The interactions probe issues around wealth, possession, and compassion. . . . Complex and provocative, this Brazilian import will intrigue readers who like puzzles.
What to make of this idiosyncratic picture book from Brazilian author-illustrator Mello? Told by an observant hornet, it’s the story of two boys in a coal yard where fiery ovens make charcoal ... The book is filled with haunting enigmas that are as tantalizing as the vaguely expressionist, non-representational illustrations executed in black, white, and shades of grey (there is smoke everywhere) and accented with neon pink and orange (there is also fire everywhere) ... The fascinating mix of words and images invites—almost demands—rereading to tease out meaning.
Praise for You Can't Be Too Careful!
A marvel of art, story, and imagination.
Roger Mello’s illustrations allow the child to be guided through stories by their imaginations. The stories demonstrate a broad international understanding. The illustrations are both innovative and inclusive, and incorporate images that promote tolerance and respect between individuals from different cultures and traditions.
Roger Mello’s sophisticated, circular tale takes the reader from one link in the quirky narrative chain to the next through a series of precisely illustrated vignettes. Each image, produced in a variety of techniques from color pencil wash to collage, is a highly stylized feast for the eye, while the storyline pursues a range of fantastical scenarios and finally winds its way back to the first motif of a white rose. Text and images invite the patient and imaginative young reader to follow this intriguing sequence of events backwards and forwards in multiple re-readings.
Through wordplay, dreamlike images, and a playful lightness of touch, You Can’t Be Too Careful! expresses serious questions about the importance of kindness and the dangers of greed.