A striking debut picture book celebrates the creative process.
Spread by spread, text identifies “mistakes” in art that give way to inspired new creations. “Even the ink smudges scattered across the sky / look as if they could be leaves— / like they’d always wanted to be lifted up / and carried,” reads text representative of the lyrically ruminative language, and it’s juxtaposed with art depicting just such a scene as a little black child looks up at the smudgy leaves. Twists and turns of the changing compositions will provoke delight in readers examining the pages to see how the white girl with the glasses (which started off as eyes that looked too big) changes, and then how she will fit into the increasingly complex compositions. The evolving black ink, colored pencil, and watercolor pictures seem at once spontaneous and refined against the white space of the page. Careful looking will be rewarded with surprising, often funny details in the art, which invites poring over and will slow down the reading of the spare text. The main character, the bespectacled white girl, is eventually joined by a diverse group of other children who play in and around a festive, fantastic-looking tree, all rendered in a style and palette somewhat reminiscent of Erin E. Stead’s work but distinctive in its own right.
It would be a grave mistake not to pick up this picture book. (Picture book. 4-12)