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Review of Lines

Lines
by Suzy Lee; illus. by the author
Preschool    Chronicle    32 pp.
9/17    978-1-4521-5665-1    $17.99

The front endpapers show a pencil and eraser on a blank page. The main story begins with a solitary figure skater tracing a crisp line across the ice. What follows are wordless pages of elegant choreography as the skater launches into an increasingly elaborate routine, conveyed through fluid pencil work. Lee is both minimalist and expressive in capturing the impressive energy of the skater’s movement. The only color is the red of the winter hat and mittens, which easily holds the viewer’s eye as the skater glides across the whiteness of the unadorned spreads. When the skater flubs a landing, the story comes to an abrupt halt. The perspective then zooms outward — and the skater’s ice is revealed to be an artist’s blank page. We next see the result of the artist’s frustration (a crumpled paper); however, having made that mistake, the artist is then relieved of the pressures of perfection, opening the creative floodgates. New characters are added, transforming the setting into a pond of amateur skaters enjoying a carefree time together. Lee contrasts the lighthearted joys of skating with friends with the rarified heights granted by the solitary practicing of one’s art. For a wordless book, Lines has a lot to say about the artistic process and the sometimes fine line between the joy of expression and lonely pursuit of craft.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Minh Lê About Minh Lê

Minh Lê is the author of the 2016 picture book Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas. He blogs about children's literature at Bottom Shelf Books and writes and reviews for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and, presently, The Horn Book Magazine.

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