A ramble through the neighborhood gets the creative juices going in this picture book.
“I have to write a story today” the narrator begins. “But today I don’t have any ideas.” Ah, tension right off the bat. In this whimsical meditation on the creative process, the narrator takes readers around the neighborhood while walking the dog, Wednesday. The narrator greets Frank, the painted turtle, hears birds, and has coffee with a friend. Stead’s sophisticated illustrations, which combine monoprints, collage, and Polaroid photographs, mesh perfectly with the narrative’s undercurrent that inspiration is both immediate in its moment-to-moment observations and timeless in its themes of humanity. A blob of spilled paint that looks like a blue horse is introduced into the story early and visually carried throughout, becoming the symbol (as it was for Eric Carle’s book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (2011), and Franz Marc’s painting, Blue Horse) of individual creativity. As a story of finding inspiration, younger readers will appreciate Stead’s gentle ramblings of imagination and observation. Older readers may begin to pick out the connections that inspire within the small acts of living—planting a flower seed, petting a dog, staring at the clouds, and conversation with a friend.
In all, Stead has given readers a deeply felt, deeply connected story that is homage to creation—and really quite brilliant. (Picture book. 4 & up)