Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bibliofile: Luis Barnavelt I Potwór Dzikiego Strumienia

Longtime visitors to Bellairsia may recall how a number of years ago (c.2001-02) we found a handful of book cover images from the Lewis Barnavelt series when they were published in Poland:

For grins we tried to decipher the covers and match them up with their English counterparts. This, however, proved easier said than done since no one on staff spoke Polish and all we had to go by were bizarre cover art. At first we weren't even sure these were real John Bellairs adventures because the covers didn't seem to correspond to any of the adventures we remembered: school buses, horses, burning houses, purple bubble bath foam, and flying bicycles. It was mentioned by Walter that in Europe they wear their shoes tighter than we do, which often restricts the flow of blood to the brain, thus ultimately affecting, and in this case, warping their imagination. He cited as an example the mad cobbler of Mainz and no further proof for us was necessary.
Case in point: cover art for what Polish publisher Amber called Luis Barnavelt I Potwór Dzikiego Strumienia (2001). In short, Strickland’s The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge. No, really.

In 2002 we decided to start asking some questions and were told by Amber that one of the artists for these books was named “GARRO”. Yeap, that’s it.  Garro.  A quick Internet search led us to illustrator Mark Garro, where we found the artwork associated with another title. Night of Fear?

It turns out that we had the right Garro – turns out that the right Garro knew nothing about the Polish covers. He didn't seem pleased at first but the story has a happy ending as apparently an agent or someone had given permission for the artwork to be used (minor communication issue on their side, then). His email indicated he had illustrated other images in the Polish series, though he never explained which ones. Maybe sometime we’ll revisit that branch of the story.

Night of Fear was written by Wisconsin native Peg Kehret (b. 1937), and it’s the 1996 paperback edition that features Garro’s work. Based on the summary, the cover seems appropriate: Thirteen-year-old T.J. and his grandmother, who has Alzheimer's disease, find their lives in danger when they discover a disturbed arsonist hiding in a barn.

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