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Anne Macdonald
Illustrated by Elaine Blier
Red Deer (Alta.), Red Deer College Press, 1991. 24pp, cloth, $11.95
ISBN 0-88995-063-6. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Anne Macdonald champions an unlikely but endearing character in Wickiup Walkingstick. Wickiup is sprayed with a brilliant and unnatural colour as workers move through the woods identifying dead trees for future clearing. Being without camouflage, Wickiup is at risk from birds and other insect predators. He tries several attempts to remove the new colour. Then he displays his resourcefulness. When the workers return to mark a nature trail, this time using green paint, Wickiup places himself strategically and successfully.

In Wickiup, the story and illustrations work well together. Illustrations are by Elaine Blier. She has created approxi­mately 10 cm by 10 cm drawings, each bound in white, and centered on a page of soft green. Wickiup paces within these confines, often waving legs or antennae beyond the frame, sometimes stepping outside entirely. The bird which threatens the orange Wickiup looms hugely over the scene and spills right off the page, enhancing the fear Wickiup experiences. The drawings are nicely detailed in predominantly soft, natural colours. Wickiup's dilemma while painted is very obvious to the young reader, who can readily see the colour contrast. Illustrations of aerosol cans on front and end papers are somewhat jarring in a book which otherwise expresses natural processes arid cycles.

Macdonald's story flows well and she makes effective use of her writing to express the conflict and its resolution. However, a flaw exists in the design of the book which mars the conclusion. The final sentence "Clever Wickiup" appears on the last page, without illustration and with one quarter of the page taken up with CIP data. A picture-book audience either in a group story time or a family setting should see the happy result of Wickiup's cleverness and not the publication information of interest to library professionals. This design decision weakens the flow and impact of an otherwise appealing picture-book.

Jennifer Johnson, Ottawa, Ont.
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