________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018

cover

PB's Comet.

Marnie Parsons. Illustrated by Veselina Tomova.
Tors Cove, NL: Running the Goat (Distributed by LitDistCo), 2018.
32 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-927917-12-1.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Amber Allen.

***½ /4

   

excerpt:

More often than not the other sheep found
PB, with a book, hove off on the ground,
and when they'd insist that she leave off and come play,
she'd point a hoof skyward, and solemnly say
that Toads Cove had once welcomed a man who watched stars,
who measured the distances between near and far,
and who knew when a comet would shoot through the sky,
and if he could, well then, PB said, "So can I!"

Every summer, PB and a group of other sheep and goats take a trip to Fox Island to graze and play on the beautiful land. While most of the seasonal animal visitors are happy to spend their time frolicking and sleeping, PB has her sights set on something much more engaging – a scientific quest. She chooses to sleep during the day while the other sheep play so that she can spend her evenings stargazing in the hopes that her charting, predicting, graphing, and calculating will lead to a great discovery equal to that of the famous astronomer who had once visited the island. While most of her contemporaries are oblivious to her work, one grumpy old goat actually takes it upon himself to disprove all her theories. He works hard to jumble her numbers and tarnish her papers. It isn't until he stays up too late attempting to mess up her work that he actually notices the beauty of the night sky. He decides to venture to the top of the hill to join PB and, side by side, they witness her predication come true. After that, the young, ambitious sheep and the old, not-so-grumpy goat become friends, meeting to awe at the vastness of the sky and contemplate constellations together.

      PB's Comet is an inspiring story about a sheep who has a goal to do something unique and spectacular and is successful because of perseverance, sacrifice, and skill. There is no mistaking that PB's success is a combination of grit and intellect – something that all children can learn to channel within themselves. While our sheep protagonist comes up against all forms of naysayers - from those who are completely disinterested to the goat who actively attempts to derail her work – nothing stands between her and her dream. The story, language, and feel of this book are all spot on. Author Marnie Parsons was able to tell a story using an aspirational vocabulary, imagery, and plot that children will be able to relate to from preschooler to school age. The only flaw in this prose poem story is that the rhythm is a bit off. This makes it difficult to get into a smooth flow when reading it aloud as it sometimes jolts or trips up the reader. PB's Comet begs a slower read through, but the experience isn't any worse for it.

      Veselina Tomova's illustrations are a style all their own. Simultaneously rough and polished – it is difficult to describe the distinctive styling. Saturated pages in predominantly dark colours draw in the eye while the unpretentious, almost hurried shapes and outlines give it a youthful feel. Especially interesting is the texture of the illustrations – a visual richness that complements the text.

      One of the best things about this story is the simple refrain of "So can I!" There is a trend in children's literature to bring STEM ideas to the forefront, and PB's Comet offers that perspective with the wonderful reassurance that boy, girl, or sheep – if you work hard and you are patient, you, too, can discover something great. The message to all those grumpy goats also rings true – take a breath and a moment to look up at the stars. When you build up and support others, there is, more often then not, something beautiful in it for you, too.

Highly Recommended.

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

To comment on this title or this review, contact cm@umanitoba.ca.

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