Contributions in the field of children's literature can now be added to the accomplishments of two well-known writers/artists. In both cases the picture books are expressions of personal experiences, tales of human accomplishment. While each may be enjoyed by young readers, there are certainly messages for adult readers.
THE JOLLY MON; Jimmy Buffett and Savannah Jane Buffett; Illustrated by Lambert Davis; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988; $14.95Jimmy Buffett often sings of the sea: "A Pirate Looks at Forty," "Nautical Wheelers," "Stranded on a Sandbar," and on and on. His songs are stories telling of human fragility and strengths. "The Jolly Mon," a collaboration with his young daughter, is a retelling of a tale of the sea combined with Island folklore.
Musicians, it is said, are often thrown into the sea and only with the help of the kindly dolphin are they saved to continue their singing.
Jolly Mon's music was beautiful, indeed. So much so he ". . . could sing more fish out of the ocean than anyone . . . "
One morning the sea gave up a beautiful guitar, inlaid with precious jewels and a picture of a white dolphin. Inscribed in gold were these words: I come from the ocean with songs of the sea:/ No lesson for learning, just play upon me./ Now go make your music in lands near and far;/ Orion protects you wherever you are.
Jolly Mon did go about the world giving happiness to many with his music. On his return home, pirates threw him into the ocean but, true to the legend, he was saved by a dolphin, the same one whose picture was on his guitar.
It's a story, simply told often reading like poetry. True to Jimmy Buffett's nature, the legend is scripted and notated as a song.
Stylized drawings are by artist Lambert Davis, a native of Hawaii..
TO HELL WITH DYING; Alice Walker; Illustrated by Catherine Deeter; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988; $13.95.
Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker is best known for "The Color of Purple" and other artistic pieces about the condition of blacks in a contemporary society.
"To Hell With Dying" is a remembrance of Mr. Sweet who strides through a life making it more meaningful with each step. He enters the story as a "diabetic and an alcoholic and a guitar player and lived down the road from us on a neglected cotton farm . . ." and leaves it as a "piece of rare and delicate china which was always being saved from breaking and which finally fell . . ." In spite of any foibles he may have had, the impact of life against life, child against adult is one that leaves both persons changed because of the experience.
"To Hell With Dying" is a tribute to age and youth and the dedication of a child's ability to revive a wanton man with love.