________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006


It Takes Two: Partners in Picture Books.

Toronto, ON: Ontario Library Association (order on-line at www.accessola.com), 2005.
1 calendar, staple bound, $7.50 plus shipping & taxes= $14.90.

All ages.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4

Whenever I hear the words, “It takes two,” I must admit that I want to complete it with the song lyrics, “to tango.” But many activities require the collaboration of two people, and, although it ultimately requires more than just two people to produce a picture book, the key creative pair are the author and the illustrator. Producing a calendar with this author/illustrator partnership as its theme was the shared creative idea of well-known author Eric Walters and Kevin Spreekmaster, the latter also serving as the calendar's photographer.

     Beginning with January, the calendar's author/illustrator pairings consist of:

Linda Bailey/Bill Slavin.

Matt Napier/Melanie Ross.

Kim Fernandes/Eugenie Fernandes.

Margriet Ruurs/Barbara Spurll.

Paulette Bourgeois/Brenda Clark.

Sandra Lightburn/Ron Lightburn.

Jo Ellen Bogart/Barbara Reid.

Andrea Spalding/Janet Wilson.

Allen Morgan/Michael Martchenko.

Sharon Jennings/Ruth Ohi.

Rachna Gilmore/Alice Priestly.

Jean Little/Werner Zimmerman.

internal art

          Closed, It Takes Two measures approximately 29 cms. in height and 30.5 cms. in width (11½” x 12"). When opened, the top “page” for each month consists of a photograph of the author/illustrator pairing in a setting related to one of their shared books. Consequently, Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin, who together produced Stanley's Party, are seated on a couch surrounded by a plethora of dogs. Matt Napier, who wrote Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet and Melanie Rose, who provided the illustrations, were photographed in a hockey rink perched on the “bumper” of a Zamboni. (Get out your magnifying glass - that autograph on Napier's Canadiens sweater is that of Maurice Richard!) For Pippin and the Christmas Pig, Jean Little and Werner Zimmerman are dressed as Santas (sans beards though Werner does sport his own natural goatee). The only exception to this photographic pattern is that of the Lightburns where Ron has provided an original illustrated portrait of himself and his wife. At the bottom of each of the author/illustrator photograph pages is a reproduction of the cover of the featured book.

     The bottom page of each month is chockablock with information. Naturally, the calendar portion is present with a reasonable amount of space being left on each day for brief personal notes and reminders. However, in addition to the calendar's day entries having added information about “important” days, such as February 17 being St. Patrick's Day, it also contains the birthdays of Canadian and world authors and illustrators (living and dead) plus their website URLs. Unfortunately, nowhere are the criteria for inclusion/exclusion provided.

s well, on about the top third of this page can be found brief biographical information about the authors and illustrators under the headings: Name, Birthday (month and day only), Place of birth and current residence (community and province only), Website, E-mail address, Children (number and gender or names only), Pets, Hobbies, What did you want to be when you grew up, Other works, Training, Advice on how to work with a partner, and Shared Works with Calendar Partner. Below the calendar portion can be found a listing of the dates for that month's award deadlines or the announcements of winners as well as the dates of various book-related festivals or conferences.

     A final delightful design addition to this portion of the calendar is the photograph of a pair of footwear connected to the month's book. For instance, April's book is Emma at the Fair, written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Barbara Spurll. The pair were photographed in a barn, and, if you've ever mucked out a barn, you'll know why a pair of high rubber boots is the appropriate thing for them to be wearing. Children could have fun explaining why the various types of footwear were chosen.

     The calendar closes with a three page foldout that repeats a head and shoulders cropped version of each author/illustrator photograph and then lists four other books produced individually or collaboratively by the pairing. Photos of the books' covers are also provided.

     As a means of promotion the reading of Canadian children's books, It Takes Two is one of the most imaginative annual calendars I have ever seen. After the year is over, its value remains as the individual author/illustrator photos can continue to be used as wall decorations or as the core of book displays. Not just an institutional purchase, It Takes Two belongs in homes as well where the turning of each month's page could be the catalyst for reading all the age-appropriate books by that month's pairings.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM's editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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