September 21, 2016


I don't know how I resisted Deborah Marcero's Ursa's Light for five and a half months! It's one of those magical books that has somehow magically alluded me for an embarrassingly long amount of time. So when I was in the UK the other week and I saw it in a bookstore, I knew it was finally time to get it. Best. Decision. Ever.

Ursa is a bear unlike other bears: she doesn't focus on the ordinary or the impossible. Ursa is more interested in the extraordinary and the potential. So when she decides that she wants to learn to fly, she won't let anyone else--or gravity--tell her what her limits are.

There's a potent connection between the illustrations and the text with Marcero's heavy focus on the constellations and astrology. We see stars everywhere: in the sky, on Ursa's clothing, and (of course) in the final play at the end. Marcero also provides fun details beyond the One fun detail is Ursa's brother, Orion. Orion follows Ursa around in most of the spreads, acting as her biggest co-pilot in the sweetest, most subtle of ways. Little Orion wears inspiring t-shirts that remind Ursa to believe in herself and be a star, and his presence allows for a run, secondary visual story.

The texture and patterning in each illustration is also incredible. Marcero creates each piece of her images by hand, using woodblock lino-cuts, cut-paper, paint, watercolor, gouache, and ink wash. She then then layers them digitally, so there's a feeling of three-dimensionality in each scene. It's an absolutely beautiful book!

If you're interested in reading about Marcero's process, you should check out her blog post. It's fascinating!

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