CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 40. . . .June 13, 2014
In The Flea, Laurie Cohen creates a seemingly simple story that will stimulate young minds to contemplate perception and point of view. The story is told from the perspective of a small black flea that climbs onto several objects of increasing size (a pea, an apple, a flower) and ends up on a cloud. Most of the story’s text and illustrations are focussed on the flea’s point of view of the world above and below him. From the cloud he climbs onto, he looks down upon the world and thinks that he is big.
At the end of the story, readers will see a shift in the perspective of the protagonist. In the last few pages, readers will come to see the flea from a bear’s point of view through both text and illustration. When the bear sees him on the cloud, he tells the flea that he is “teeny-tiny”. The flea then changes the bear’s perspective on his size by jumping onto his fur to become a big problem for the bear.
The flea is a new fable that will entertain young readers who will likely want to hear the story many times. The bold and solid colours used by Marjorie Béal in the illustrations will appeal to and attract very young readers. Each illustration in the story is created and assembled using simple shapes and colours. The images created by Béal may also inspire young readers to create their own stories and illustrations.
The way in which The Flea plays with the idea of words and perspective will encourage discussion in class and at home. Young readers will likely want to discuss the meaning of being big or little after the story is over. The Flea is a great picture book for classroom use as it will inspire discussion as well as art projects for young students.
Vasso Tassiopoulos is a graduate of the Master of Arts program in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia.
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