Addressed in an opening note to “the one who finds this,” this collection of what Martin calls story scraps invites readers to stretch their creativity.
Martin presents a “misfit” series of narrative fragments, describing them as stories that don’t yet exist. Each spread features either a full-bleed or one-page illustration, rendered in delicate gouache and acrylics and accompanied by an intentionally cryptic, hand-lettered note, as if jotted on a scrap of paper. (“She hadn’t believed in the night garden.”) Most of the illustrations feature elegant portraits, many of tall, slender, doe-eyed, pale girls and women (including a mermaid) in nature. Refreshingly, two of the nonwhite humans have very dark skin instead of the lighter, ambiguous skin color used to signify diversity in so many picture books today. Occasionally, massive and mysterious sea monsters appear; after all, “the sea gives up its secrets slowly.” In both artistic style and tone, romantic is the vibe: Martin writes that she found one story fragment “in the roots of an English rose.” The tone momentarily shifts toward surreal when she paints a young girl at a birthday party with friends who have human bodies but large animal heads (a cat, a bear, etc.), but the more wistful tone dominates.
Whimsical writing prompts in a vintage style for your inner Wes Anderson. (Picture book. 8-15)