An illustrated primer that explains personification even as it employs it.
Cleary here tackles the concept of personification with the graphic assistance of Dublin-based illustrator Crimmins, making her picture-book debut. While other classmates are assigned “similes” and “puns,” Cleary’s primary-grade first-person speaker must give a presentation on the heady topic of personification, “something that gives human traits to stuff that isn’t people”—not exactly Webster’s definition but descriptive enough to get the creative wheels turning. Speaking in rhymed verse, the young girl reveals: “That ‘stuff’ could be a garbage truck, December, or the wind— / a noun that has no heartbeat, eyes, or mouth. / It compares what something does to things that people do, / like ‘Angry storms are marching through the South.’ ” Crimmins subtly doubles down on the fun with playful mixed-media illustrations, which depict a diverse classroom. Amber D. (a white girl assigned “similes”) holds a raspberry-pink lunchbox that features the face of a pig and says “hungry as a…,” while Angelo (a black boy tasked with “puns”) sports a T-shirt emblazoned with a strawberry-iced doughnut ringed by the cheery message “donut worry be happy.” Though Cleary cleverly employs numerous examples of personification as his speaker (who has light-brown skin, brown hair, and freckles) works through her project, they beg the question whether the children most likely to understand the concept will appreciate the picture-book format.
A sophisticated concept that will require some active teaching to communicate it. (Picture book. 7-12)