Vivid, offbeat, and instructive.

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SCRIBBLE AND AUTHOR

An unseen author guides a scribble through the elements of story creation.

A paintbrush dabs a pear-shaped orange blob onto the page, then pencil lines are added, making a face, arms and legs, and voilà: Scribble. Author, appearing only as a disembodied voice, announces that the scribble will be given the opportunity to make a journey. The text and illustrations are completely interdependent. Although Author never appears, digitally collaged-in photographs of a sharp pencil, a brush, and an eraser, later joined by lined paper, a sharpener, and cellophane tape, all play a role in the evolving story. Author’s voice takes the form of narrative text in a type reminiscent of an old-style typewriter, while Scribble interacts with faux hand-printed dialogue in speech balloons. The scribble must make all the decisions, passing along a curvy yellow road through gates that lead to the beginning, middle, and end of the story, all rendered in softly hued watercolor with a bit of black line for definition. Author encourages, exhorts, challenges, and offers suggestions, while Scribble makes inventive use of the accouterments provided by Author. Leshem-Pelly endows Scribble with a childlike demeanor and the willingness to go along on this new adventure. At times Author can be annoying, didactic, and pushy, but Scribble valiantly carries on, finally arriving at an imaginative happy ending.

Vivid, offbeat, and instructive. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61067-575-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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