A child’s transition to literacy is celebrated in this Brazilian import.
Little Pedro is an observant boy. Surrounded by “all kinds of posters, billboards, and signs,” he can understand most of the pictures, but others make no sense to him, “like the little signs on each street corner.” His mom explains that it’s the name of the street, but he sees just “a bunch of drawings,” represented as serpentine scribbles in the illustrations. One day, his mother tells him he will start school, where he will begin to “understand…the letters and numbers you are always asking about.” On the first day, Pedro’s teacher introduces her students to the letter A, and suddenly he sees “that the signs, billboards, and shop windows all had his teacher’s A.” Now, among the scribbles on the signs, Matoso places clearly distinguishable A’s. Each day, with each new letter, “the miracle continued to happen” until Pedro is reading, and letters completely replace the scribbles. Rocha’s text is marvelously child-centered, never leaving Pedro’s perspective and realistically evoking the way letter acquisition turns nonsense into sense for most children. Matoso’s striking, posterlike illustrations use a limited palette of, mostly, red, pink, blue, black, and olive, allowing figures and patterns to occasionally merge with negative space, visually reinforcing the mental gymnastics involved in deciphering letters, her awareness of environmental print as keen as Pedro’s.
This will have many children looking for meaning all around them. (Picture book. 3-6)