The Blank Page, written by Alberto Blanco and illustrated by Rob Moss Wilson
Plum Blossom Books, 2020, 32 pages
Trigger Warnings: N/A
About the Author: “Alberto Blanco is a poet, translator, essayist, and visual artist. Born in Mexico City, Blanco studied chemistry, philosophy, and Oriental Studies. He is the author of over 30 books of poetry, including Giros de faros (1979), Dawn of the Senses: Selected Poems (1995), and Afterglow/Tras el rayo (2011). He has also published translations, essay collections on visual art, and children’s books. Blanco’s work explores the boundaries between aesthetic forms and genres, languages, and verbal and visual registers. Jerome Rothenberg called Blanco “an increasingly significant voice in Mexican and Latin American poetry.” W.S. Merwin described how Blanco’s poems “have revealed with precision and delicacy an original imaginative landscape, in language and imagery that are at once intimate, spacious, and rooted in the rich ground of Mexican poetry.” Blanco’s poetry has been translated into over 20 languages. Blanco studied with Juan Rulfo as a scholar of the Mexican Writers Center in 1977. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Mexican National System of Art Creators” (Bio taken from poetryfoundation.org)
About the Illustrator: “Rob Moss Wilson lives by a creek in downtown Martinez. He keeps several cauldrons of creative juices on a perpetual simmer, including but not limited to: writing small poems about mundane ecstatic experiences, painting landscapes and picnic scenes, kinetic light sculpture performance, and drawing anything that he fancies.” (Bio taken from illustrator’s website)
When we pick up a picture book, we often only see what is right in front of us: the words and pictures that the writer has handpicked just for us. In The Blank Page, however, Alberto Blanco leads the reader to question whether a page is ever truly blank. Behind the blankness of a page, there are so many pieces that had to work congruently to make the page exist. For example, paper is made from wood. Where did the wood come from? What had to happen for the forest that grew the trees that made the wood thrive, and who helped throughout the process? While leading the reader through a simplified process of what has to happen to create one sheet of paper, one is reminded that we are all a part of the process that makes our little edge of the universe work. Blanco nudges his reader to remember that we can always look deeper, and little things like sheets of paper aren’t always so simple.
Blanco creates an enlightening read for adults and children alike in The Blank Page. In a book with a delightfully different plotline, the reader is led through the process behind what had to happen to make the book they are holding tangible. Supplemented by Wilson’s charmingly simple illustrations, the process behind what makes a sheet of paper come to life and give us the perfect medium for our favorite stories is made accessible to readers of any age. What something appears to be cannot always be taken at face value, and oftentimes we take for granted what has to happen for each piece of paper to end up where it’s meant to be. This intuitive picture book is the perfect introduction to prompt discussions for young children about the world around them.
(Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)
PRR Writer, Machaela Raney