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The Rock-itt : February 2012
Soon after completing "The Rainbow Bridge," Robert began another book, this one written by the Jamaican- born British poet, James Berry, OBE. "Rough Sketch Beginning" tells the story of an artist wandering the outdoors, each element of the environment given its own short verse (sun, clouds, mountains, see, trees, etc.). Robert decided to fashion the book in the style of an artist's sketchbook, which he filled with his own sketches from actual trips around the world--Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Italy, many states of the U.S, etc. For the book's conclusion, he created an imaginary landscape composed of the various locations illustrated throughout the book. That large oil painting was later purchased by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. "Rough Sketch Beginning" was published in 1996 and became a particular favourite of librarians and teachers. Their first book being a bonafide hit, Robert returned to the authorship of Audrey Wood and illustrated her "BirdSong. " This was a highly conceptual work that described, in minimal text, the phonetic sounds of American birds, following the course of a single day from dawn 'til dark in many locations throughout the country. Robert gave this book a Victorian feel by framing each illustration with a decorative floral border, each illustration's flower being the official state flower in which the bird and action take place. In "Early Morn'", for instance, we see two children playing in a New York park, the illustration bordered by the state flower of New York--the rose. The scene takes place in a locale quite familiar to Florczak who went to art school in that city. The original cover art was purchased by Mel Gibson, one of three Florczak works he owns. "BirdSong", like his first two books, was published by Harcourt, this particular title in 1997.