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Review of Written and Drawn by Henrietta

liniers_written and drawn by henrietta Written and Drawn by Henrietta
by Liniers; illus. by the author
Primary   TOON   62 pp.
9/15   978-1-935179-90-0   $12.95
Spanish ed. 978-1-935179-91-7   $12.95

Henrietta’s mom gives her a box of brand-new colored pencils, and she’s off, creating a nail-bitingly thrilling story (“The Monster with Three Heads and Two Hats”) about a girl named Emily and the monster who comes out of her wardrobe one night. The monster, though it looks scary, turns out to be friendly (“Good evening little miss!”) and in search of a hat for its third head. Emily joins in the quest, entering her suddenly “HUUUUGE,” labyrinthine wardrobe and braving a truly terrifying monster (“the monster with one head and three hats!”) before emerging victorious. Liniers works magic here, and not just with the Narnia-like wardrobe. Emily’s adventure is drawn with colored pencils — brightly colored, messy, dramatic scrawls; contrastingly neat, contained panels in pen-and-ink and watercolor show Henrietta drawing the story and commenting on its progress. Liniers paces both elements superbly, keeping the focus on the exciting monster tale but interjecting the quieter panels at just the right moments. This is also a clever explication of the creative process: as she draws, Henrietta sometimes looks at the story objectively from the outside (“Those three little dots really add… / …SUSPENSE!”); at other times she’s swept up in the excitement of her own creation (“I’m drawing really fast ’cause I want to see what happens next”). For emergent readers, this will require some sophistication, with words like chaos and labyrinth and hat-o-logy and even Phrygian; the hand-lettering may also present a challenge. But it’s all worth it. A Spanish version, Escrito y dibujado por Enriqueta, is also available.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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