________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 38. . . .June 9, 2017


By the Time You Read This.

Jennifer Lanthier.
Aurora, ON: Clockwise Press, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-988347-05-9.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4


By the Time You Read This is an ode to revenge as composed by Oscar, a boy with a cast on his arm. Whatever has caused his injury has brought his juvenile rage to the fore.

     “By the time you [some, at this point, unnamed person] read this, the Indestructible Fortress of Fiendishness” will be demolished. All the inhabitants of the “Magical Zoo of Mystical Creatures”, some stuffed, some real, like a gleeful hamster, are to be set free. A co-authored story, the “Neverending Novel of Awesome Adventures”, will be brought to a close. And those are just a few of the punishments to be meted out, the joint projects to be destroyed.

     Oscar is seen working off his frustrations, then sulking in the play structure at the park as other kids - without casts - frolic on swings and slides. A flashback reveals the source of the bad feelings. Sam, a lively-looking girl wearing a backwards baseball cap, is seen laughing as Oscar takes a tumble from his skateboard and ends up with a broken arm.

     Back in the present:

By the time you read this…
…I will have forgotten why we were ever friends.
Yours Untruly, Your EX-friend, Oscar.

     Sam appears and offers an apology for laughing at Sam at the time of his accident, an apology which is readily accepted. After a few nearly wordless spreads of former activities resumed, the book concludes with this note:

”Dear Mom + Dad
By the time you read this we’ll be halfway to
Outer Space in our Planetary Pirate Ship.
(Home for dinner).”

     There is lots to talk over after reading this book, although a few parents and teachers may take exception to the tone of simmering resentment (and the label on one of the zoo cages identifying its fluffy purple contents as a “farting fur-tail”). But experienced illustrator Storms (The Pirate and the Penguin, Chirp Magazine) imbues Oscar with some real baseboard-kicking, toy-throwing anger which is then happily defused with a few kind words. A lot of white space in the pictures sets off the human figures and emphasizes the emotion.


Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.

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.
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ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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