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Friday, September 9, 2011

MINE! Written by Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patrice Barton. Knopf, Random House. 2011. $18.99 ages 2 and up

"If you ever said
this book is for you!

(from the back cover)

It seems I am on a roll with wordless books in the past couple of weeks. I guess that is because there has been a abundance of worthy ones on recent lists.

This delightful book shows the power of illustrations to convey the idea for a very special story. When they are set together next to a pile of toys, we know little about the two youngsters. Are they siblings? Do they know each other? Have they played together at an earlier time? How old is the toddler? It doesn't really matter. Patrice Barton creates an irresistable episode from the real world. As if two kids in such a place is not enough, a dog is added to the mix, and chaos reigns!

The author needs to say little, beyond a questioning 'woof?'and the oft-repeated 'Mine!' that tends to happen when very young children try their hands at sharing. It is the way the word 'mine' is presented that adds such drama to the narrative. As young readers pore over the pages of this energetic and endearing tug-of-war, they will have much to add from their own initial experiences with the hard work of sharing beloved, or new, toys! Their first look is sure to garner much laughter and a repeated reading.

Watching the two interact without adult intervention is pure delight. The older one grabs up everything that can be held, leaving the baby to pick up the last toy. That last toy now holds all of the attraction for the toddler. So real! When a toy lands in the dog's water dish all else is forgotten. Who doesn't love splashing in water? The cherubic baby has the final say at this round of playtime....and it is a charming way to end this very endearing book.

There is such warmth  in the colors used by Patrice Barton. The faces are filled with expression, including that of the playful pup. She uses motion with great skill, showing it in a series of dotted lines that guide the young reader from one incident to the next. The toys are familiar and might offer up stories from those who recognize them. The endpapers give us hope the two will meet for another round of parent picking up a happily waving baby while the other scoops up the soaked socks of her toddler as the happily waving hand is mirrored.

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