This week’s selection for originality in writing was Spork by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. The author tells the story of a little spork who, although loved by his mother (a spoon) and his father (a fork), he does not quite fit in with any of the other kitchen utensils. To make matters worse, he is hardly ever used or allowed to participate in the humans’ dining experiences. Although he makes many attempts to change his appearance in order to fit in, he realizes he can’t change the essence of who he is or where he comes from. Eventually, the home where he lives, gets a new family member, who finds great use for a spork.
What I love about this book is that it talks about a sensitive subject (the feeling of not belonging, due to either coming from a mixed race family, or for any other reason) and it presents it in such an innocent and sweet way. I loved everything about it. I love the thought that it has the potential to make children feel better about being different and to have them realize that they too belong and serve an important purpose. The illustrations are also very sweet and well thought out, they work perfectly with the feel of the book.
The book I selected for originality in illustrations is Virginia Wolf, which interestingly enough is also written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault – I did not realize I had chosen two books from the same author and illustrator until a few minutes ago, when I sat down to write my reviews. I first picked up this book, because I thought it was an homage to Virginia Woolf (which it might be interpreted in that way, to some extent, since Virginia Woolf tackled depression and her sister Vanessa Bell was a painter). Although it wasn’t an exact homage to Virginia Woolf, I was not the slightest bit let down by the story.
This book tells the story of a young girl named Vanessa, whose sister, Virginia, wakes up one day feeling wolfish. Virginia does not want to see anyone, get out of bed, or do anything. Vanessa does everything she can to try and make her feel better. Eventually, she decides to paint a mural of all the beautiful things Virginia likes and says would make her feel better. Vanessa’s creative plan, helps Virginia feel better and a lot less wolfish. It is an absolutely beautiful story about depression, tackled very tastefully.
Although I love the story and the message behind it, I absolutely love the colorful images and the way the text is utilized as well to add more drama when needed. The illustrations have a very Alice in Wonderland feel to them, which I love. I also love the fact that the illustrator starts off using color and then as Virginia falls into a deeper depressive state of mind, the illustrations become more monotone and darker. Once Vanessa realizes how to help Virginia, the illustrations become colorful and lively again. Everything was so well thought out and executed.
This week’s books both tackle subjects that are sometimes regarded as being taboo, but the author and illustrator manage to present them in such a respectful and beautiful way. I recommend both these books to everyone.
Please be sure to check back every Friday to see what book(s) I selected as my Books of the Week for Originality in the Writing and Illustrations. Feel free to make any recommendations on books I should check out.