CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 12 . . . . February 16, 2001
One summer, Bibi and her Mom went to stay at Grandpa's farm. Grandpa took Bibi around the farmyard to show her the dangerous places. He showed her the tractor. He said, "Bibi, don't go near the tractor. It's a big machine and you might get hurt." He showed her the road. He said, "Bibi, don't go near the road. Big trucks roar by every day." ... He showed her the bull pen. He said, "Bibi, don't go in the bull pen. The bull is big and mean and he will scare you."Bibi listened to her grandfather and stayed away from all the places he told her not to go, but, when the bull got out of its pen, Bibi wasn't scared; she scared the bull. The story is pleasant and based on a true story, but the main attraction to this book is its illustrations. Done in chalk pastels, no detail is spared, from the gopher poking his head from the ground as Bibi and her grandfather walk along a rutted path, to the Canada geese bathing in a pond as Bibi is warned of the dangers of the road, to the drool on the bull's chin as he bellows at Bibi.
The illustrations are also set out in quite an interesting way. While some pages consist of two smaller illustrations of farm life above and below the two or three lines of text, some illustrations cover two full pages, often with a bar superimposed over this spread offering the same scene from a different perspective.
These illustrations follow the story line quite faithfully and provide animation to the words. They also serve to enhance the tension during the climactic scene where a thunderstorm is rolling in just as Bibi and the bull enter into their confrontation.
The text is amusing with a good amount of repetition and would be well suited for being read aloud to an individual or a group of children small enough that they all could get a view of the illustrations. The plot, although simple, is well developed and surprising, and a touch of humour is used at the end.
There is absolutely no fault at all to be found with this book. The illustrations alone make it a treasure, and the story is both endearing and enduring. Farm children and city children alike would appreciate the rural setting and abundance of animals, and parents and teachers too would greatly enjoy reading this short, beautiful book.
An aspiring writer, Emily Walters Gregor is a second year student at the University of Winnipeg.
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