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Review of My Pictures After the Storm

My Pictures After the Storm
by Éric Veillé; illus. by the author; trans. from the French by Daniel Hahn
Primary    Gecko    32 pp.
3/17    978-1-776571-04-8    $16.99

This subversive French import riffs on the standard before-and-after construct with a crafty conceit and playful presentation. The opening spread is simple enough. On the left sits a grouping of seaside items, titled “MY PICTURES,” each labeled in loopy cursive. On the right “MY PICTURES after the storm” display the same items, now altered: the pail is a puddle, the slide is overturned (its label written upside down), and the parasol is almost out of frame. Subsequent juxtapositions up the ante with increasingly beguiling transmogrifications. A family spread features, on the left side, a boy, his father, and pregnant mother. On the right, “after the baby,” a screaming baby sister is surrounded by a vast array of infant paraphernalia, and the older child appears perplexed. A bedroom spread includes a monster and a mosquito on the left; on the right the monster is revealed to be a couple of coats on a rack, and the narrator, covered in welts, has become a monster (the mosquito is nowhere to be seen). While board covers, sturdy pages, and the picture-dictionary format may suggest early learning, do not be fooled: this conceptual compendium aims squarely at the elementary set with provocative delight.

From the July/August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Thom Barthelmess About Thom Barthelmess

Thom Barthelmess is Youth Services Manager for the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

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