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NEVER EVER by Jo Empson Kirkus Star


by Jo Empson ; illustrated by Jo Empson

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-84643-552-2
Publisher: Child's Play

Who says closing your eyes hinders adventure?

“Nothing exciting ever happens to me! Never, ever! Humph,” grumbles a girl with coiled-spring red legs and scribbly-straight ginger hair. Holding her floppy stuffed rabbit, she closes her eyes and sets off on a stroll. They pass an orchard of innocent pigs, one of which sprouts wings and follows, aloft. In a field of wind-bent reeds, a purple gorilla stands; from a mass of shining yellow flowers, up pops a lion. The girl’s eyes stay resolutely closed, even when the lion’s gusting roar blows her hair and dress like a stiff breeze. “[N]ever, ever, ever, evereverevereverevereverever,” she repeats, as animals emerge from the abstract, ever-changing landscape. Gorgeous secondary and tertiary colors, often watery and splashing, make a vibrant mix of saturation and pallor. Motion-filled lines create energy. Surprise and hilarity escalate, all rising from the girl’s closed eyes, but is she really entirely ignorant? Perhaps not: The gorilla inquires “Ever?” and she answers; plus, her eyes do open at a certain critical point, yet afterward, even as she cleans grime off her bunny, she insists, “See? Told you! Nothing exciting EVER happens to me!” Her eyes-shut expression holds subtle amusement and defiance; this girl may know more than she admits.

Eye-catching pictures and splendid forward momentum add up to a giggle-inducing tale with subtlety underneath. (Picture book. 3-6)