________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 14 . . . . December 5, 2014


The Boy in the Bubble.

Zetta Elliott. Illustrated by Nguyen Le Vu.
n.p.: Rosetta Press (www.zettaelliott.com), 2014.
32 pp., pbk., $10.00 (U.S.).
ISBN 978-1-49744-478-2.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Amber Allen.

** /4


When she was ready to face the new day, the unusual girl pushed open the wide, wooden door. As she stepped outside, she felt something sprouting inside of her (this was a small bud of hope). The unusual girl held up a hand to shield her eyes from the sunlight. Then she searched the sky for the mysterious boy in the bubble.


The unusual girl peered around the mossy corner of her rock. There, encased in his luminous sphere, was the mysterious boy. A smile spread across her face as the unusual girl realized he had been waiting for her.



The nameless “unusual girl” in Zetta Elliott’s The Boy in the Bubble leads a solitary life just outside of the village gates. Each morning, she leaves her home under a rock in order to take in the beauty of the green valley that surrounds it. One hour is enough to satiate her, and she returns fulfilled to sleep until the next day. That is, until one day she comes across a mysterious boy in a bubble who slowly encourages her to experience her surroundings more intensely. Through taste, touch, and smell, the girl describes the valley’s wonders in detail for the boy who cannot use his senses to engage with the flora and fauna. They quickly become friends, their bond reinforced by their joint status as “outsiders”, but they both need to overcome a few obstacles before they can join in with the ordinary folks of the nearby village.

     On the surface, The Boy in the Bubble is a lovely story of friendship, environmental appreciation, and self confidence. While it doesn’t offer anything original, it is a nice reminder of the beauty that surrounds us every day that we may take for granted. It is a simple story with excessively stylized prose. Despite the length of the text heavy book, the unfolding story feels rushed because the constant use of multiple adjectives in every paragraph only succeeds in making the reading experience feel awkward.

     The accompanying images use a limited palette of saturated jewel tones (greens, purples, fuchsias) and simple cartoon drawings. These full-page illustrations do a wonderful job of depicting the action described in the text without offering anything extra. They are visually appealing but do not require any prolonged viewing. The Boy in the Bubble is a pleasant read, with a few beautiful passages, but with all the children’s literature on offer, it’s not a standout choice.

Recommended with Reservations.

Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

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

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