Pike Place Portraits

A lively art book introduces kids to a Seattle landmark.

The Pike Place Market has been a great place to take kids as long as I can remember. Now you can take the Market home with you and share it with the nippers without being afraid one of them is going to get lost or fall into a Dumpster.

Author/artist Sara Anderson lives in the Market. She's lived there a quarter-century, and what she knows about its people and shops, its moods and hours, is abundantly on view in her A Day at the Market (Handprint Books, $14.95; www.pageahead.org/adayatthemarket). Printed on stiff, shiny, child-resistant die-cut cardboard, it provides action-figure portraits of so many Pike Place regulars (including Dumpster-diver "Three Hearts") that you can lose track of a particular figure in the dizzy multitudes, making Where's Waldo–like games a natural for reading with tinies. The slightly more literate will be able to sound out Anderson's rhyming quatrains, but words are kept to a bare minimum. What makes the book fun to look at is the flood of lively images, all rendered—flowers, shops, streets, and people—as though composed of colored-paper cutouts ingeniously arranged. (Anderson produced artwork using the technique for decades, and though she now uses a computer, her images still have the edgy, dynamic feel of collage.) Compositionally, the look resembles Jacob Lawrence's genre pieces, while the color scheme recalls Matisse, but Anderson renders her Market so assiduously that each lively page jumps out at you like a portrait of the beloved familiar. All in all, the nicest thing to happen to the Market artwise since Mark Tobey hung out there, and a lot better adapted to lap appreciation.


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