Max and the Dumb Flower Picture

Max and the Dumb Flower Picture by Martha Alexander with James Rumford.

This is Martha Alexander’s last book.  You have probably read some of her books, but to jar your memory she did the Blackboard Bear series.  This final book was completed from her unfinished manuscript and sketches by James Rumford. 

Max’s teacher Miss Tilley wants the class to color a picture of a rose for Mother’s Day.  Each child is given a sheet with the same rose copied on it, but Max knows that his mom would not want that for a present.  So Max refuses to color the sheet and runs from the room, hiding behind the bushes to create his own flower for his mother.  Everyone looks for Max, even the police, and when he is found he shows everyone his flower.  All of the children are inspired to create one of their very own, unique from everyone else’s.  Make sure to take time to look at the end pages filled with flowers drawn by Martha Alexander’s friends and family.

A simple story, well told and inspiring, this book will remind everyone that you don’t have to stay in the lines, don’t have to color a red rose like everyone else, and can create your own art and beauty.  Along the way, children who are happy to create their own art, stop.  They start following our rules, losing their creativity.  Suddenly skies are no longer orange and pink, cows are not purple, and clouds a fluffy in front of a corner sun.  This book is a small step towards fixing that and giving children back their own voice, odd, unusual and colorful.

I can see using this with adults working on creativity.  It reinforces that there is no right or wrong answer when being creative and expressive.  It is also a wonderful book for children who are just beginning to feel the pressure to stay in the lines.  Let’s all wander outside those lines and celebrate it!  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Magic Box

Magic Box by Katie Cleminson

On her birthday, Eva got a box!  A special box that she jumped into and became a magician.  Her first trick was to create a pet called Monty, who turns out to be an enormous polar bear.  Then she pulled rabbits out of hats.  Lots of rabbits.  She went on to make food, bring in musicians, and have a big party.  And in the end, she clicked her fingers and made everything disappear.  Almost everything.

First, let me say that I love seeing a girl magician who is not a witch.  That alone makes this book worth reading and having on library shelves.  Readers will also appreciate the beauty of imagination here on the page.  The illustrations use thick black lines which are then mixed with splashes and blots of color – imagination at work and visible.  The story is brief and powerful.  It is short enough to read aloud to young audiences but deep enough to spark discussion.

A lovely look at creativity with a large splash of magic, this book is certain to float right into readers hands.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.