While she makes The Log Driver's Waltz about the log driver and a girl who yearns to dance with him above all others, Jennifer Phelan also makes the story a detailed homage to the task of the log drivers. She creates movement, integral to the work and the dancing, with line and shape that reflects the original animation of the film with astounding success. It's an organic take on the log driver's story.
“My name is Claire and I am 4 3/4 years old. My mom sings me the Log Driver’s Waltz every night at least once. We really like it so much. We live in Toronto (in Cabbagetown). I like the pictures that you made in your book. My favourite picture is the log driver. Where do you live? Well, I have to go bed now. I hope that you keep making books. Good night!
“I adored this book from across a store and bought it before I even opened it (thus judging by the cover)! As I read it I wanted to simultaneously sing, dance and grab a box of pencil crayons and start to do my own art. My granddaughter and I looked up Wade Hemsworth online and learned about this iconic songwriter. I confess to having been sadly ignorant about his wonderful output. Now we can belt out the lyrics with gay abandon.”
“…each illustration looks subtly well loved, like it has been folded up and carried around in a pocket all day. The colour palette is snug and homey, with rusty oranges, black-ish greens, and tinges of pink when love starts to bloom. Most images bring to mind a crisp fall day during magic hour… Phelan steps lightly, but decisively, in interpreting The Log Driver’s Waltz, preserving the song’s inherent birl without overshadowing the agency and decision-making power of a girl.”
This emotionally resonant, retro-style debut about a boy and the dog who moves in and out of his life is “sure to be a book worth revisiting,” our reviewer, Tom Lichtenheld, said.
"... Retro yet fresh ... Like a new old friend, it’s sure to be a book worth revisiting."
"Strouse and Phelan perfectly complement each other in this meditation on the passage of time. Deceivingly simple text and illustrations belie the complex themes and artistic skill of its creators. In pacing and use of negative white space, the two channel Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. However, this existential work is more Zen-like. Phelan’s smartly designed spreads take readers on a visual journey from cover to end pages, and as the adult boy tells his old friend once more about the adventures they will have, his dreams unfold like the wind.