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THINK BIG by Vanessa Brantley-Newton


illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton by Liz Garton Scanlon

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: July 3rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59990-611-9
Publisher: Bloomsbury

A bouncy, early-childhood answer to Glee shows a racially diverse classroom of kids eagerly preparing for a multifaceted art performance.

Scanlon’s spare rhyming text bursts with gusto. No page has more than four words, but every word’s turbocharged because of flawless scansion and exuberance. The project ultimately takes a theater format—“Brainstorm / Blank page // Scene set / Onstage”—but along the way, no art form goes unturned. There is cooking—“Pinch salt / Dice, chop // Click, flash / Time stop”—and then singing, sewing, ceramics, dance: “Big voice / On pitch // Pin, trim / Thread, stitch // Red clay / Round wheel // Spin, twirl / Toe, heel.” Painting, knitting and music feature too. If readers never learn quite the essence of the final performance, that simply adds a frisson of excitement. Mixing gouache, charcoal and mixed media in digital collage, Newton shows the busy kids in constant motion, not hyperactive but vigorously productive. Adults appear only when it’s time for an audience. The curtain rises on a scene revealing kids with a bass viol, construction outfit, chef’s apron and tulle tutu, and the text’s crescendo will send readers scampering off to do its bidding: “Big breath / Brave heart // Ready, set… // Make art!”

Short and peppy enough for plenty of encores—until it’s time to go make art. (Picture book. 3-6)