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Sunday, September 21, 2014

ANY QUESTIONS? by Marie-Louise Gay. Groundwood Books, 2014. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Sometimes a story starts with words or ideas floating out of nowhere. Some words are captured and written down...

while others are thrown out or carefully put away in a drawer for future use. Until slowly, slowly, a story emerges..."

It seems far too long since Marie-Louise Gay's last book! In the interim she has created an amazing look at the work she does to make our reading lives lovelier. Her books have been perennial favorites with children in  classrooms, and with teachers. All for good reason...they honor children with humor, with understanding, and with a perfect eye for their own unique personalities.

In this beautifully crafted interactive story, she brings the work that she does to those who share it.
If you have been a participant or listener in an author's workshop, you will recognize the personal and real questions asked by the children who adorn the early spreads. As she responds to them, she explains just exactly how the process of making a book works. Because she is both author and illustrator, the children are privy to the way that both work together to fashion an impressive whole.

As they proceed, we all come to know just how tricky the work can be. Much experimenting goes on as Ms. Gay creates the design, the characters, the illustrations and the perfect words. There are many changes as she comes up with ideas and then abandons them for something different. In the end, she finds just the right setting, perfect characters and even includes some of the children in the development of the tale.

If you are familiar with her exceptional previous works, you will recognize the happy mixed media images that invite close inspection and much discussion. I love the children and their little round heads, the array of cultural faces, and the building of story. Be sure to check to see if you recognize any of the children on its pages.

Of this book, Marie-Louise has this to say on her blog ( about the evolution of this wonderful new book:

"Five years spent gathering materials, ideas and inspiration to create a story about how to create a story, with words and pictures, based on the wide experience I have had in meeting with children, reading to and with them, drawing and creating stories in schools and libraries and especially answering their endless questions.
I wanted my story to be playful, magical and surprising. I  didn't want it to be a book that tells children how to write, but rather to discover that there are many ways of writing and telling stories.
I wanted children (and adults) to realize that they will be moved to be more creative when they are facing the unknown in that uncertain, scary, exciting mindspace between the time you know you have a story to tell, but before you have found a way to tell it."

You did exactly what you were hoping to do, Marie-Louise! We are most grateful for that, and blessed to share it.

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