A clever acknowledgement of the importance of imaginative play.

READ REVIEW

IN MY ROOM

A BOOK OF CREATIVITY AND IMAGINATION

From the Growing Hearts series

A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing, and in recognition of this fact, there is no lack of picture books that delve into a youngster’s world of fantasy.

What makes this one different is the format. Designed to be rotated 90 degrees to read, with thick pages that turn toward readers, each spread depicts a new imaginary scene via a series of graduated and mitered panels like colored tab folders. In first-person voice an ebullient girl asserts, “In my room, I can go anywhere I want to, and be anything I want to be. All I need is paper, crayons, chalk…and my imagination!” Her scrawling drawings evoke her pretend worlds in subsequent spreads as explorer, princess, writer, sailor, swimmer, bride, veterinarian, and rock star. The girl’s black-and-white line figure sports a red hair bow, paper-white skin, and rosy cheeks, with appropriate accessories for each pretend role. As explorer, two horizontal lines of red on each cheek evoke “war paint,” although the colander on her head confuses easy associations. Lots of white space effectively focuses attention on the girl, and swirls of crayon colors lend an aura of childlike spontaneity. The latest in Witek and Roussey’s Growing Hearts series (All My Treasures, 2016, etc.), this is a room full of appeal.

A clever acknowledgement of the importance of imaginative play. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2644-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A sweet cetacean story.

THE HEART OF A WHALE

The flora and fauna of the ocean respond to a lonely whale’s beautiful music by helping him find another whale.

“Whale’s song was so beautiful it could reach the farthest of faraways.” Over a double-page spread, a simply drawn white whale—detailed with a large eye, a small mouth and fins, and a small lavender heart—swims past a variety of pastel-hued sea denizens. The lyrical text is set in type that emulates hand-lettering. Watercolors are the appropriate choice for a tale that occurs in a sea full of creatures—with an occasional glimpse of land and sky as well as a cheerfully colored sailboat and lighthouse. Collage, pencil sketching, and washes produce a dreamlike effect that also feels sweetly humorous. A double-page spread of sea horses lounging atop spirited jellyfish is especially whimsical. Musical terms are cleverly used to describe the singing whale’s positive effects on others (“a cheerful symphony for a sad urchin”). After several pages of poetic lines about the talented singer, readers learn that his heart feels “empty.” The ocean carries his sighing wish across miles of lovingly rendered sea habitats until the solo becomes a duet. Although the flap copy speaks of friendship, even the youngest of readers will sense that this is a whale of a romance. Beneath its warmth is a poignant reminder of the loss to all if whale songs become history.

A sweet cetacean story. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984-83627-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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