This is really a stunning page. A very rich illustration takes up half of it, with five illuminations to follow.
The top-half page illustration is wonderful example of Letitia’s watercolor skills. This image is well composed. April and the bird she is mending take center stage, while a good sized rock provides a background that takes up most of the frame. Bookending the rock are the blue butterfly and a flowering plant. There is also action in the scene as April applies a splint to the broken wing, while the butterfly hovers nearby with another leaf for the bird’s bed. The colors – especially that of the bird – are just extraordinary.
The illuminations on the lower half of the page are equally as extraordinary. The first is of the blue butterfly. It seems to be a clone of the same image contained in the illustration, but compressed somewhat horizontally. The larger image, in the illustration, is the better of the two, providing a richly-rendered portrait of April’s faithful companion. Still, the patterning on the smaller one is so delicate and detailed. Two subsequent images – one of day and one of night – really dominate the lower space. Both are faithful studies of the two states of a single day, whether in Fairyland or the Great World.
The two smaller illuminations are just endearing. The last, that of the leaves, while standard shows just how thorough Letitia was in illuminating April’s world. But the one hovering above “nursed” is my favorite image on the page. While it is a simple red cross, outlined in black, it carries more meaning than any other on the page. Why? Because it is semiotic. That is, it is not merely an illumination, but a symbol – pregnant with cultural meaning. This has nothing to do with illuminating – or illustrating – a thing, an action, or a state of being, but rather presenting a glyph with vast societal and cultural meaning; meaning beyond mere surface image. Though put down with watercolor and ink long before the term “meme” was recognized – this is, in fact, one. Letitia, an old fashioned watercolorist and illustrator has tapped into future (now contemporary) ways of ascribing meaning.