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THE IMAGINARIES

LITTLE SCRAPS OF LARGER STORIES

Whimsical writing prompts in a vintage style for your inner Wes Anderson.

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)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-55-351103-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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