A Feast For The Eyes, A Snack For The Soul

The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico

Imagine if you will, the most spectacular vision your mind's eye can witness. Fill that view with nature's greatest glory. Fill it with a beauty so pure, so inspiring that any superlative that crosses your lips fails in its attempt to describe the essence of such a scene.

Just what is it that you see? Is it the lake that you visited often as a child, just at that moment when the sun, apparently exhausted from its day's effort, takes its evening dip in the still waters? Is it a butterfly flitting amidst a garden of the most exquisite blossoms? Is it the morning light shining on newly fallen snow? Is it a noble stallion sauntering through a vast meadow? Or, is it the face of a loved one? Perhaps, it's as simple as the pure colors of the rainbow.

Now imagine if that vision was suddenly snatched away from you. If someone, covetous of such majesty, decided to possess it for him or herself. Decided to consume it so that the luscious image was his and his alone. And, you and the rest of humankind could never enjoy that sight again.

The Rainbow Goblins: A Feast for the Eyes. A Snack for the Soul

Have you ever been mugged by a book? If so, I'm sure you know what I mean. You walk past it on the shelf, hardly even noticing it as you drift down the aisle of your favorite bookstore in search of your next captivating read, when suddenly.thwack it hits you from behind. You turn on your heels not quite knowing where the blow came from. searching, searching. "what the.?" And there it sits, smiling up at you, every drop of ink on its pages forming a most wicked Cheshire grin not unlike that of a child who so proudly unveils the masterpiece she has just drawn on your dining room wall.

Suddenly you find yourself picking up that book. It matters not that you have absolutely no interest in the subject, the author or the financial solvency of the publishing house that produced it. You just have to pick it up. And, once you do, you become obsessed with owning it.

My first encounter with The Rainbow Goblins was just such an act of literary violence. It was the fall of 1979 and I was entering my sophomore year of college. I don't remember every detail of the experience, but I can vividly recall being assaulted by this book. I was browsing the Classical Mythology stacks deep in the back of New York's legendary Coliseum Books when I suddenly felt compelled to revisit the table of newly released books at the front of the store. There it was. The innocent looking volume looked up at me and batted its pulpy lashes. I melted.

It was a children's book for goodness sakes! I was ripped away from a volume exploring the archetypal patterns in Ancient Greek Religion for this? Uh huh.

Please take a moment and scroll up the page to look at the image of the cover that (with any luck) will appear on the left side of the screen. If it's not there, then, when you have a moment, take a look at it through the link on the product page. It was that magnificent cover image that compelled me to leaf through the book that day, and the 18 gorgeous color plates I found waiting within that made me obsess over buying it.

I tried to fool myself into believing that I was making an investment for my children yet to come. And, honestly my son did enjoy it immensely several years later. But, he was always aware that this very special book was reverting back to Mom's ownership once he had outgrown it. I'd also like to say that I'm holding it in safe keeping for future grandchildren. I'm not. Although, the next generation is welcome to enjoy it, I'm not about to part with my copy so quickly. Hey, the book went back into publication in 1994 and remains in print now. Let their Dad buy them their own copy.

To say that the artwork is spectacular would be an understatement. My mind's eye could never envision visual splendor such as has been captured on these pages. Written by and illustrated with brilliant reproductions of original oil paintings by fine artist/author Ul de Rico (Count Ulderico Gropplero di Troppenburg) the book is a pure feast of color in words and images.

Story? Oh yes. I often get so carried away in the visual experience of this book that I almost forget about the charming fable it relates:

"Once there was a land that lived in fear of seven goblins. They were called the Rainbow Goblins and each had his own colour, which was also his name: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Yellow, being the craftiest, was their chief. The goblins lived on colour - they prowled the valleys and climbed the highest mountains looking for rainbows, and when they found one, they caught it in their lassoes, sucked the colours out of it and filled their bellies with its bright liquid."

So begins the triumphant tale of good over evil. Of nature in all its glory overcoming that which seeks to consume it. Of unity over selfishness. Of generosity over greed. Perhaps I had not strayed so far from my readings on archetypal patterns after all?

The fact of the matter is that this simple 32-page book appeals to a wide range of audiences. It can be an engaging picture book for the younger child who is learning about color. It may also be used as an early reader for those who are ready. (However, I must caution that although it does have large type and little text on each page, some of the vocabulary - a possible result of translation from the original German text - may be a bit difficult for this group.) It can certainly be used in the classroom for a discussion of folklore and mythic patterns. And, as proven by my uncharacteristic acquisition of a children's book at the age of 19, and the fact that it still charms me at 40, it appeals to the child in everyone.

"The sight that greeted them when they reached the meadow took their breath away. The rising arch of the Rainbow, so rich with colour and promise, almost blinded them."

I know just how those Goblins felt. This book took my breath away more than 20 years ago and continues to do so today. So filled with color, so filled with promise. this elegant children's tale feeds both the eyes and the soul a meal of visual nectar and ambrosia. I have possessed it for many years, but I can never totally consume it. I'd like to have it around to snack on for many more years to come.

--B. Redman