January 16, 2012
Metal Man by Aaron Reynolds
Whenever he gets the chance, Devon heads over to watch the Metal Man work. His sister won’t go with him. She’s scared of the noise. Mama doesn’t even like what the Metal Man does. According to her, it isn’t art, but junk.
But Devon sees something more. He sees the work that goes into it and the heart. Still, sometimes he isn’t sure what he’s supposed to see in the sculptures. But this isn’t school and eventually Devon learns that with art there is no one right answer.
One day, he asks if he can try something. The Metal Man won’t let Devon handle the dangerous torch but he follows Devon’s directions and before the day is out, Devon is holding the star-house that he designed.
Paul Hoppe’s mixed media illustrations are a perfect compliment for this story. Bold black lines compliment Devon’s brass even as they also depict his complex emotions and the pure strength of the Metal Man’s craft.
But this isn’t a bold story. The power is subtle. Nothing is said about Devon’s father; all we know is that he isn’t in the book. Is the Metal Man Devon’s mentor? A Big Brother? Again, nothing is said. All we see is first his tolerance of the boy but also the care he takes when Devon wants to create something of his very own.
It takes nerve on Devon’s part to bring his creation home. What is Mama going to think? He views on the Metal Man’s work are outspoken and clear. But Mama doesn’t have all the answers although she’s willing to see the art in what her son has created.
This book will definitely give you something to consider for quite some time. Even after a week, I know that I’m still process it.