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SCRIBBLE AND AUTHOR

Vivid, offbeat, and instructive.

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. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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