Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mina's White Canvas by Hyeon-Ju Lee

Generally speaking, "unique" does not describe my picture book collection. I purchase popular, accessible, and storytime read-alouds at a much greater rate than award-winners or artistically interesting books. Not that there can't be overlap in those categories, but if it comes down to an award-winning illustrator or the latest llama-llama book, I'm going with the llama, no matter how much it makes me cringe. However, sometimes a book comes along that's so intriguing and lovely I indulge myself and add it to the collection. This is one of those books.

Rosy-cheeked Mina, in an empty room with a white crayon, looks up at the gray sky and feels gloomy. So she draws a snowflake. And another. And the world begins to change into a mysterious, marvelous place. Soon Mina is exploring a winter woodland with blue and green trees and friendly, quirky animals. Mina's white crayon draws a red ladder, a blue door, and everything her new friends need for a wonderful day. When the day ends, the crayon is gone and Mina is back in her empty room, but her head is full of memories and a colorful sunset softly glows outside the window.

The bare white landscapes come to life with the magical blue shades and sharp red accents of the illustrations. I love how the colors expand from the plain white crayon and the soft curves and deep blues and greens of the trees. It's a mysterious and yet friendly world, no hint of danger only a happy, warm adventure. It's not a logical story - how does Mina's white crayon produce different colors? But it's an imaginative child's world, where anything can happen. The illustrations are simple but give a delightful feeling that there could be all sorts of animals and adventures hidden away behind the trees and snow.

Verdict: This might be considered a grandchild of Harold's Purple Crayon, but it is clearly it's own story with a life and personality of its own. Definitely add if you want a cozy story for a gloomy winter day and something to spark the imagination and warm the heart.

ISBN: 9781441318268; Published 2015 by Peter Pauper Press; Galley provided by publisher; Purchased for the library

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