Review Blog

Oct 13 2015

The visions of Ichabod X by Gary Crew

cover image

Ill. by Paul O'Sullivan. Harbour Publishing House, 2015. ISBN 9781922134547
(Age: Mid primary) Recommended. Future, Endangered earth. 'Time To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven' (Ecclesiastes 3) is quoted in the steam punk illustrations which accompany Gary Crew's text. Beautifully illustrated in intriguingly detailed pencil drawings, the story of a worker at a cemetery meeting the boy whose gravestone he notices, is full of references to time with watches, time pieces and an hour glass often taking the predominant position on the pages. Ichabod the boy gives the caretaker three presents: a flying machine, a spy glass and an open lock. Each is designed to give the man a glimpse into the future.
Crew never makes things easy. His introduction of the caretaker using Ichabod's gifts to see into the future is then left for the reader to pursue. No easy answers here, no tying up of the story, no development of character, but questions, and turning the page offers more questions. Ichabod does not tell the caretaker what he sees as he views the future, it is up to the reader to develop this vision for themselves.
Hints are given along the way.
Crew talks of 'the time we have', 'the destruction mankind might cause', while the illustrations reveal a world destroyed by human interaction, tall buildings desolate and bereft of people, frayed electrical cords, wasps trying to get at the boy, an oak tree taking over the headstones. With more than a nod to early silent movies, particularly sci fi, classics, Metropolis and A trip to the moon, the illustrations bear close inspection. All is intriguing and demands the reader to think about what they are seeing, to think about the future path of the world, and where it is headed. A religious overlay caught my attention with the church and its headstones figuring on several pages, a worn, dog eared Bible shown, the quote from Ecclesiastes given, then the church revealed at the end crumbling and in ruins. The link to time is everywhere, no where more so than the hourglass chewing the watches at the top to reduce them to the cogs and wheels in the base. An intriguing read, questioning the way mankind has gone with science, and asking his readers to ponder their futures.
Fran Knight

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