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Friday, May 13, 2011

Red Wagon, written and illustrated by Renata Liwska. Philomel, Penguin. 2011. $21.00 ages 3 and up

"That sounded like a chore.
Lucy didn't want to do chores.

But she set out to the market."

All Lucy wants to do is play with her red wagon. Mom agrees, but there is a catch. She would like Lucy to take that wagon and go to the market for her. A list is produced. Lucy is disgruntled with what sees as a 'chore' for her mother. Lucy doesn't like chores.

If you know anything about kids and their imagination you won't be surprised to see what happens as Lucy takes to the task given by her mother. It certainly isn't a dull journey! The text is plain and pretty simple. The gentle, loving artwork tells a completely different story.

"She pulled the red wagon up the hill.
It was pretty heavy."

Of course, it was. When we turn the page, we notice that the wagon is filled with a red squirrel and a headgehog. A bunny gives a helpful assist and a raccoon trails faithfully behind them.

On and on they go, on a long and delicious trek that has a surprise rain shower spawn an uncontrolled ocean. The wagon then becomes the boat that crests the ocean waves and brings its passengers to safety, just in time to turn into a covered wagon, a caravan, a train car, and even a rocket ship! Tuckered out by the time she returns home, Lucy finds the perfect use for her new red wagon.

If you are not yet a fan of Renata Liwska, you need to get quickly to her blog and see the wonderful work that she is doing. Her illustrations are done with pencil, then digitally colored. They glow with warmth and light. The child's point of view is charming and entertaining for young readers. What  joy to celebrate the brilliance of a young child's imagination in such a clever and appealing way!

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