Friday, June 13, 2014

Froodle by Antoinette Portis

My only regret in reviewing this book is that I wasted SO LONG and didn't buy it immediately when it was released.

In a typical suburban backyard, all the animals have their sound. The dogs bark, the cats meow, and each bird makes a special sound. They coo, they chirp, they caw, they peep, all through the seasons. But one day...a little brown bird wants to say something different. Will she convince the other birds to try out some new sounds, or will she have to stick to her same old call?

This isn't a new story of course - there are plenty of picture books, chapter books, and more out there about being different, standing up for yourself, and bucking tradition. What makes this book so delightful is the complete lack of earnest lesson-ness. Little Brown Bird isn't trying to say something profound or fight for the rights of all little brown birds (not that it would be a bad thing) she just wants to try something new and be a little silly for a change.

The art has Portis' minimalist outlines with added digital color that makes it look like almost like a photo collage. The backgrounds are simple and there aren't a lot of colors but the art fits in just right with the story. My only quibble is that, while the nonsense words and dialogue are in speech bubbles or bold black text, the brief sentences of the narrative are placed against darker backgrounds and can be difficult to pick out.

Antoinette Portis is a master of taking a very simple concept or idea and combining it with her deceptively minimalist art to create a delightful story that will resonate with both children and parents. Share this in storytime or one-on-one to discover the joys of trying something new and being silly.

ISBN: 9781596439221; Published 2014 by Roaring Brook; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

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