Review of Leave Me Alone!

brosgol_leave me aloneLeave Me Alone!
by Vera Brosgol; illus. by the author
Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.
9/16    978-1-62672-441-9    $17.99

Graphic novelist Brosgol (Anya’s Ghost, rev. 7/11) makes an impressive picture-book debut with this inventive story about an old woman’s quest to knit in peace. The tale begins with traditional narrative trappings: “Once there was an old woman. She lived in a small village in a small house…with a very big family.” Overrun by her thirty rambunctious grandchildren and determined to finish her important knitting project before winter, the dour woman packs her things and takes off, shouting, “Leave Me Alone!” shown in a huge speech balloon. Brosgol’s richly colored illustrations in an autumnal palette also place us in familiar folktale territory, combining an early-twentieth-century Eastern European vibe with a contemporary sense of humor. Alas, things are no better for the disgruntled woman in “the deep, dark forest” (curious bears) or in a mountainside cave (yarn-eating goats). “Leave Me Alone!” she hollers again and again. In a surprisingly surreal double-page spread, she trudges up to the mountaintop and straight onto the surface of the rising moon. Fleeing a crowd of “little green moon-men,” she enters a wormhole and finds solitude in the void on the other side. After six striking pages of white-line drawings on solid-black backgrounds — the void — her knitting project (“thirty little sweaters”) is complete, and all ends happily in a satisfyingly circular way. Repetition and patterned storytelling ground the out-of-this-world elements for a thoroughly entertaining adventure.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Kitty Flynn
Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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