While making a drawing, a girl adapts mistakes into new subject matter.
This first-person narrator sets out to create “a picture that’s perfect in every way.” Perfection, however, is elusive. Coloring inside the lines is hard, and when results vary from what she intended, she’s upset. She solves this, each time, by changing her content to match the new lines. The theme of flexibility is encouraging. Her subject matter progresses from “a girl who’s clean and neat”—a boring start—to a piano, a horse with pockets who gallop-flies through a land of desserts, and a pirate ship. Gordon-Noy’s mixed-media illustrations use pencil, paint, and marker over a dynamic layering of papers: lined notebook paper, graph paper, doilies, photos, and paper with music scales and notes. Some papers are crumpled; some have an off-white wash over them. The artist/protagonist is drawn in the same style as everything else, making the character one with her art. The fatal flaw is the verse. Rhymes are missed (dreams/cream; around/down), description stilted (“She is having so much fun”), and scansion uneven (“That makes me so mad! Why can’t I stay in the lines? / Should I rip up this picture and begin one more time?”). Oddly, the girl seems more concerned with coloring within the lines that she herself has drawn than with drawing representationally, which feels developmentally off.
A fine topic with compelling collage, hampered by poor verse. (Picture book. 4-7)