MINE! By Shutta Crum and illustrated by Patrice Barton published by Penguin Random House. Images used by permission of the publisher.
In most all the reviews for children's picture books, the main portion of the review discusses the writing......well I'd like to reverse that in my reviews....and concentrate on a review of the illustrations, from an artist's perspective. I'll try to tell a little about the book, and then highlight how I see the illustrator "building" the story with his/her illustrations. I'd love to hear if you agree with my summery.....or have other comments.
When I first picked up this almost wordless picture book, I was drawn by Patrice Barton's darling little toddler on the cover. Then I flipped thru the book, and did it again, and counted all of 9 ½ words....repetitions of “Mine!”....... and the puppy saidth “Woof!” once. I would have thought that this kind of book would have been written and illustrated by the same person.....not so! My next thought was just how would that manuscript look????
I went thru the book again and began to appreciate how Patrice Barton had taken the author's “action notes” and woven a lovely playful swooping story of how a toddler proclaims everything is hers......while a giggling, crawling sibling looks on.....and a puppy plots to grab some of the fun for himself! After much grabbing, giggling, splashing, we come to the “punch line”.....er.....word, which is.....you guessed it: MINE! The picture has the giggling, “just taking his first step”, sibling pouncing on the toddler and announcing that she belongs to him! (I'm arbitrarily assigning him/her to the engaging toddlers.....it could go either way)
Patrice Barton's gestural drawings are fantastic....she captures the fluid motions of little ones giggling, solemn watching, then going single mindedly for whatever catches their attention. I've loved Patrice's expressive faces ever since Rosie Sprout's Day to Shine.....and she catches these two little one's glee and giggles with brite eyes and smiles that show every little thought in their quick silver minds. From their poofs of angel fine hair to baggie jumpers the black “pencil” strokes just barely contain these little ones. With what looks like soft pastels colour in the toddlers' faces....there is a blush on every cheek....that really helps round out the little faces. The soft surrounding colours of the floor give this such a sense of safe, soft, giggling fun.
This is such a lovely blending of the author's intent and the visual creativity of the illustrator. It's like they were both “on the same page” in telling this story. The action swoops, and giggles and bounces around.....and only uses 9 ½ words!