________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 41. . . .June 22, 2012

cover

Virginia Wolf.

Kyo Maclear. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-649-8.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Roxy Garstad.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

I lay beside her on the bed.

We were two quiet lumps under the blanket.

     We sank deep among the pillows.

We looked out the window and gazed at the sky.
We watched the clouds: a smudgy sailboat,

a flying llama and a floating castle.

It was like a whole other world.

     Still, my sister said nothing. To anybody.

 

Virginia Wolf is a captivating story based on the childhood relationship between writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell. They are portrayed as having polar-opposite temperaments, with Virginia as the grouchy, unsociable, and critical character, and Vanessa as the kind and cheerful one. Despite Virginiaís wolfish temperament, Vanessa quietly lingers at her sisterís side, offering her company and distraction. She finally compels her sister to break her moody silence by reaching out to her through her art, portraying a garden in an imaginary land that Virginia envisions. Newly inspired, a more cheerful Virginia begins to tell the story of this land, lifting her and her sisterís moods in the process.

internal art     Maclearís narrative is poetic and moving, bringing more esteem and beauty to negatively-perceived emotions through her words. The overarching themes of sisterly bonding and the importance of family care during times of distress are crucial lessons for young children, and they are brought to life in the text in a subtle and non-preachy fashion. Older children will be especially receptive to such topics.

     The graphics are nothing short of beautiful and inspiring. Presented as mixed media of ink, pencil, watercolour, and gouache, each page of Arsenaultís work could be a gallery-worthy piece. To top it all off, the hand-lettered text works hand-in-hand with the words to bring the complex emotions of the writing to life. Maclearís and Arsenaultís exceptional book is a must-have for all libraries with childrenís book collections and is a display-worthy piece.

Highly Recommended.

Roxy Garstad is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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