It wasn’t perfectly square anymore.”
I am, however, happy to share this picture book today. It’s called Perfect Square (Greenwillow, April 2011), and it’s from graphic designer and children’s book illustrator Michael Hall. Hadn’t even heard of this one till Betsy Bird mentioned it in her mid-year Caldecott and Newbery predictions post. So I grabbed a library copy, and voilà! Here I am to showcase it, ’cause me likey.
But then, as you can see at the top of this post, it got cut into pieces. (This would be one of those rule-breaking instances in which an author is encouraged to write in passive voice; the entire book avoids active voice. We don’t need to know who does what to this square. We just need to know how the square responds.) Where was I? Oh, right…
Attasquare. That’s the right attitude.
This goes on every day of the week:
The square gets cut into strips; it becomes a park. It gets snipped into ribbons; it makes itself into a river. And so on. On Thursday, it’s shattered. (Yes, “the square was shattered.” Oh my. I find that kind of show-stoppingly dramatic, and I like it.) On Sunday, it waits but merely remains a square. Furthermore, it discovers at week’s end there that it doesn’t like it’s “confining” four sides anymore — too “rigid and cramped.” So…well, I can’t give away the entire book for you here, so I’ll stop there.
Using acrylic monotype ink prints here, Hall tells a story here that works on many levels: It’s pointing out the obvious to you smart 7-Imp readers that this is more than just a story about creativity. This is actually a pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-off-and-make-the-most-of-it tale without being at all ham-handed about it (which could have been an easy thing in the hands of a clumsier author/illustrator). I like it. (Maybe folks can join me in a campaign to have this book bought and purchased for new graduates so that we can get a break from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! overkill at the end of every school year, with all respect to Theodor Geisel.)
Also, because I like to quote the professionals, The Washington Post wrote, “Michael Hall again engineers geometric shapes and bold colors into a simple but expressive story…a book that begs for reams of colored paper, rooms full of imaginative hands, and a whole lot of clapping and giggling.” Ooh! Yes. What they said. This could be used umpteen hundred ways in an elementary classroom, particularly art class. (And that reviewer writes “again,” because Hall brought us this in 2010, pictured here below.)
Perfect Square is simply a delight it what it is. Any day of the week.
PERFECT SQUARE. Copyright © 2011 by Michael Hall. Published by Greenwillow/HarperCollins, New York. Images reproduced with permission of publisher.
Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
1) This picture is proof that your seven-year-old had fun at art camp.
2) Neko Case and Nick Cave covering The Zombies.
3) “The Human Voice” from StoryCorps.
4) I get to speak at this event again this year. I get a chunk of time to talk about the best picture books thus far in 2011. Oh twist twist my arm! I’m having fun preparing.
5) I stumbled upon this news below about a new Laura Marling CD, and it made me happy. I am still wearing out her 2010 CD, I Speak Because I Can. She is only something like eleven years old. No, seriously. She is 22, I think. (But don’t quote me on that number.) She is exceedingly talented and but a spring chicken in this life. And this Fall CD seems promising, even if she looks mighty confused standing in the park in this video.
6) This poem by Marge Piercy.
7) I enjoyed writing this for Kirkus this week, especially since the moment I sat down to write it I wasn’t at all sure what I’d be writing about. I like how it came together, and I appreciate my friends and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter who helped me brainstorm a long list of folks who migrated from editorial to children’s book illustration (or did/do both simultaneously).
What are YOUR kicks this week?