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Review of One Day, the End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories

One Day, The EndOne Day, the End: Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; illus. by Fred Koehler
Preschool, Primary    Boyds Mills    32 pp.
10/15    978-1-62091-451-9    $16.95

“For every story there is a beginning and an end, but what happens in between makes all the difference.” In this collection of stories that are both tiny and substantial, words, pictures, and book design dance with one another in a way only possible in a picture book. The “stories” are bare bones. “One day…I went to school. I came home. The end.” On one double-page spread the illustrations fill in the middle of the narrative: how our pigtailed storyteller was late for school, how her science experiment exploded, and how the day was redeemed with ice cream. Close perusal of the pictures reveals the cause of the explosion and the little girl’s mood at every point, conveyed by gesture, color, and page composition. Other stories include “One day…I hid from my brother. He found me. The end” and “One day…I took a bath. So did my dog. The end.” The text is graphically dynamic — painted on fences, constructed of tree trunks, found in footprints in the mud. The characters climb on the words and hide behind them. Recurring objects — yellow rubber boots, a broom, an orange cat, a pile of leaves — tie the stories together, and the final episode reveals the overall narrative: how Pigtail Girl discovers herself as a writer.

From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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