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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Joseph Fipps, written by Nadine Robert and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group West. 2014. $20.95 ages 4 and up

"I look at the floor.
Then I blurt out:

"You always say 'no'!
I can never do anything.
You're mean and I want
another mommy."
She looks at me with
big round eyes.
But it's too late.
I've said it."

If you are a parent, you have probably heard that same sentiment from one or more of your children. If you were a child, you likely made such feelings very well known to your own parents. We have all been there, and perhaps still feel the same even now!

Our introduction to Joseph comes when we are witness to an error in judgement. The cat also takes note of Joseph's arrival in the room; then promptly falls asleep. That nap is all too short! The evidence lies on the floor, and Joseph is on the run down the hallway before we read any text:

"Again this morning Mommy called me Gremlin.
Every time I do something kind of silly, she calls me Gremlin.

So now my dad, my grandpa, and my grandma all call me
Gremlin, too. But Gremlin isn't my real name."

Meet Joseph Fipps and his jauntily bow-tied teddy bear. He takes us along on a walk around his yard and gets himself in a bit of a pickle once again. Mommy is definitely mad now! As she scolds, Joseph gets worked up, too. When he threatens, she suggests he find another mother on the banks of the North Pole. Why not try a walrus mother?

Off he goes, imagination in tow, to the banks of the river beside his favorite chestnut tree. It isn't long until he is seeing that kind and generous walrus in a very positive light ... until he realizes that he is a very small boy and he knows a place he would rather be.

Using layers of pastel and colored pencil, Genevieve Godbout creates a sense of softness for both the child and the setting. Joseph's demeanor is evident in his clear expressions. Expressions throughout offer much opportunity for discussion as the story is being read. I especially love the wordless spreads where not one word is needed to let us know exactly what is happening, even before Joseph can explain it for us.                                                                          

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