Monday, February 27, 2012

Soonchild by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Alexis Deacon

Somewhere in the Arctic Circle, Sixteen-Face John, a shaman, learns that his first child, a soonchild, cannot hear the World Songs from her mother's womb. The World Songs are what inspire all newborns to come out into the world, and John must find them for her. But how? The answer takes him through many lifetimes and many shape-shifts, as well as encounters with beasts, demons and a mysterious benevolent owl spirit, Ukpika, who is linked to John's past
About the book
Alexis Deacon’s illustrations add a wonderfully magical look to Hoban’s fantastical writing. Legendary storyteller Russell Hoban whisks his readers across frozen landscapes, to the edges of cliffs, into tiny rock crannies, and down into the belly of a great swallowing demon – and has them laughing and weeping in turns along the way.
About Russell Hoban
As a child - Russell Hoban was born in Pennsylvania, USA. His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine; his father was the advertising manager of a Jewish newspaper as well as a dram guild director. Russell was thus exposed to the arts early on, and became interested in writing at an early age, winning prizes for his stories and poems during his school years.
Photo above right - Russell Hoban at the Guardian book club last year. Photograph - Graham Turner for the Guardian
As an adult - Russell served in the US Infantry during WWII. For a time he taught art in New York and Connecticut. He then worked as a freelance illustrator and an advertising copywriter. He began publishing children's books in 1958, and since then has published more than fifty. His picture book The Sea-Thing Child, illustrated by Patrick Benson, was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Russell passed away at the age of 86 in 2011.

About Alexis Deacon
Beautifully illustrated by London-based illustrator Alexis Deacon. Deacon’s previous work has been highly acclaimed, with his second work Beegu being shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award, and selected by the New York Times as one of the year’s best illustrated children’s books.

Cover & art
Lyrical images of a variety of good-natured animals populate the book’s pages: a polar bear thoughtfully looking down on the cover; a one-ton walrus napping on the edge of a cliff; a small creature with a pear-shaped face and stitched lips.
Soonchild - 
by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Alexis Deacon
Hardback - Published by Walker Books - $29.99

"Hoban is the best sort of genius." - Patrick Ness, The Guardian

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