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Pickle Me This

March 19, 2014

New Kids’ Books We’re Loving

the-most-magnificent-thingThe Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires: Harriet is big into Ashley Spires’ books, in particularly, Binky the Space Cat, which got her started saying, “Holy fuzzbutt!” But with this latest picture book offering, Spires has truly outdone herself. It’s got everything. It’s got a dog, a girl who builds things, appealing illustrations that stand out against simple line drawings of an urban street-scape. It will appeal to both sexes. It’s got words, so many words, terrific verbs employed in the act of construction. It’s about coming up short, making mistakes and getting angry–the acknowledgement of such experiences is incredibly profound and has echoes of Sendak. Perfect tongue-in-cheek humour too that kids and adults will get–Harriet likes to note that the girl’s “out of the way” workspace is in fact in the middle of the sidewalk. I love delivering the understated line, “It was not her finest moment,” when the girl finally loses it. And that wonderful image when she hammers her finger, Spires’ skill as an comics artist translating so perfectly into picture book form. What a truly wonderful picture book, coming quite close (dare I say it?) to perfection.

tweedlesThe Tweedles Go Electric by Monica Kulling and Marie Lafrance: As a feminist and a troublemaker, I’ve long admired Kulling’s books for their subtle subversion of gender roles. She’s up to similar tricks in this one, her latest, which seems influenced by her experience as author of a series of picture book biographies of scientists. For this is a picture book about technology, the electric car at the dawn of the new century. The twentieth century, that is, the Tweedle family deciding to finally get with the times and joined the automotive race. But they don’t want a steam engine, or a car that runs on gasoline. It’s the electric car for them, a model which is smart, green and economical indeed. Young daughter Frances, however, is not so invested in her family’s new purchase, for “like most young girls”, her interests were more in the direction of higher education. She’s forever got her nose in a book, until she gets her chance behind the wheel and discovers that she has got a sense of adventure after all. Lafrance’s detailed drawings are delightful, and as humorous as the story itself. I do love that penny farthing!

One thought on “New Kids’ Books We’re Loving”

  1. Thank you for getting my meaning.

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