With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, Rebecca Chaperon's paintings and illustrations often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventure through an enchanted landscape. Her subject matter ranges from ethereal and dream-like to darkly humorous. Her work can be found at www.thechaperon.ca. Born in England in 1978, Rebecca began to call the rainy shore of Vancouver home after graduating from Emily Carr University in 2002. Her work has been exhibited across Canada and has been awarded a grant from Canada Council for the Visual Arts.
KIRKUS: An alphabet of excuses, from A is for ASTRAL PROJECTION to Z is for ZOMBIE APOCALPYSE, channels the gothic spirit of Edward Gorey. The text follows the standard abecedary model, with a large single letter and a following line on each spread's verso. The excuses range from at least faintly credible ( K is for KIDNAPPED ; M is for MONONEUCLOSIS ) to such less-floatable plaints as E is for ENNUI and G is for GREMLINS. Painted largely on the covers, jackets or endpapers of old books (with the titles often visible), 26 neurasthenic girls cast in gloomy lighting and clad in school-uniform blouses, skirts and high boots poutingly model or act out each alibi amid minimally detailed surroundings. The backgrounds can be the best parts of the illustrations. Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls is a nice complement to G; Out of the Night is positively brilliant for I is for INSOMNIA ; A Perfect Spy makes mordant comment on O is for OBSERVATION, in which a drowning girl is espied through a pair of binoculars. Others are less successful: Why position an ex libris sticker over the conked-out girl in N is for NARCOLEPSY ? Of doubtful utility as an idea book for young slackers but sure to draw a few chuckles from the teen leather-and-lip-ring set--and grown-ups who often find themselves writing or receiving parental notes to the teacher. (Picture book. 12 & up) Publisher's Weekly- Starred Review Canadian artist Chaperon uses a standard A is for structure in her children's debut, but when that A stands for astral projection, it's immediately apparent that this is a rare and special abecedary. It's impossible not to feel the presence of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies in Chaperon's portraits of somber, willowy girls, tidily dressed in pleated skirts, Peter Pan collars, and ribbons. For G, a redheaded girl eating her breakfast cereal is beset by tiny gremlins that tug at her hair and arm. Separation anxiety keep a pair of girls from school-kneeling cheek to cheek, they appear to be conjoined twins. By themselves, the images can be foreboding, unsettling, or bleakly funny; what takes them to another plane entirely is that Chaperon paints them on the covers and interiors of weathered old books, creating delicious thematic connections. A pink book jacket screams Now We Are Enemies as a girl with a sword glares off-page for R is for Revenge ; a dumbstruck student's empty speech bubble is set against a yellowed index page crammed with verbiage. Just creepy enough to make parents insist on driving their kids to school. All ages. (Feb.)