A story illustrated around a selection from Stein’s 1914 poetry collection, Tender Buttons.
How, exactly, does one visually interpret Stein?? “I hope she has her cow” lends itself to a clear-enough image. And lines like “Nearer in fairy sea, nearer and farther” are obviously evocative. But what of “If it is absurd then it is leadish” or “little leading mention nothing?” Illustrator Stone takes words by the famed experimental poet and lets her imagination lead her to a story about “a little girl named Pauline who lives with her mom in a house on stilts by the sea.” This interpretation is as good as any other, and Stone’s loose-limbed, crudely emotional, brightly washed illustrations do a lot to create a mystifying yet comforting world where a young white girl named Pauline, her mother, and their multiracial group of friends prepare for a party that ends with Pauline paddling out to sea. Stein isn’t for everyone, of course, so there’s no use asking that this interpretation be widely accessible or appealing, but it works, somehow, nonetheless. Less successful and more patronizing is the afterword, in which Stone explains that Stein “liked to use sentences in new ways that looked different than other people’s. Why not try saying something silly while saying something serious? she must have thought.” Must she have?
An intimidating poem lovingly interpreted. (Picture book. 6-10)