by text and illustrations by Leo Yerxa
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by Olga Stein
Leo Yerxa won the 2006 Governor General's Award for children's book illustration, and it's hard to argue with the judges' decision. Every double-page spread in Ancient Thunder is beautifully composed, full of depth, texture, and colour that captures the tactile qualities of each piece in what is always a sumptuous arrangement. Leo Yerxa has pioneered a technique that "makes paper look like leather." With fringes attached to the sides of his treated and painted sheets, cut to look like items of clothing, we're fooled into thinking that we're looking at actual shirts and dresses. The illustrations are marvelous, featuring horses, dappled and marked, "chasing the buffalo," and "the antelope", "soaring on eagles' wings," "racing over the tall grass," on "hooves of ancient thunder," or at rest with their beguiling gaze turned directly toward us. One can practically hear the thunderous gallop of many hooves, the cry of the eagle, and the whispery movements of horses on a moonlit night. Congratulations Leo Yerxa!