Monday, February 1, 2010
A Book, written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. Roaring Brook, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009. $18.95 ages 8 and up
"There was a father and a mother,
a girl and a boy,
and some pets.
When the book was closed
it was night in the book,
and the family slept."
Upon coming to the breakfast table one day, the young daughter asks: “I know we live in a book, but what is our story?”
All other members of the family have an answer. The father, a circus clown, replies that he is hardworking and off to be silly for the day. The mother, a fire fighter, is off to fearlessly do her job. The brother, an aspiring astronaut, is having a tough time waiting to be old enough to leave earth for other worlds. Even the cat, the fish and the dog have their stories. Moving on to the next page, she is off to deal with her dilemma. As she goes, she meets the goose who laid the golden egg and is introduced to other famous fairy tale characters. She is sure that is not her story. As she continues on she meets a detective, a white rabbit, denizons of the deep and briny sea, prairie folk of the past, her space obsessed brother and arrives back home, with her story in mind. After dinner, she sits down to write it.
This is an intriguing journey, taking readers through a variety of genres as the young girl searches. Each page teems with familiar folk (if you, too, are a reader) and sly reminders of them and their stories. I love the 'birds'-eye view' perspective, the long shadows, and the ability to see everything from one vantage point. There is lots to be seen, but readers are not overwhelmed and there is much conversation to hear. My advice is that you spend time really looking at the artwork...it is a lot of fun! Look carefully at what the family is doing before the book starts and the final image of the little girl and her cat as the story ends.
I read that this seems like a Google view of storyland and that is an apt description. It is a sign of our times, isn't it?
And just so you know that the story has ended, here is the final request to her readers:
"Dear reader, now that you've
reached the end of the book,
would you mind closing it
please? I'd like to
go to sleep.