Spork by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Spork’s mother is a spoon and his dad is a fork.  In the world of the kitchen, there was very little mixing between different types of cutlery.  Sure there were some rebels, but most of them stuck to their own kind.  But no one else was quite like Spork with his mix of spoon and fork characteristics.  To make matters worse, Spork was never chosen to be used at the table.  That is until one day, when the messy thing arrived who had no respect for cutlery and didn’t know how to use them correctly.  The messy thing needed its own special utensil.  Something that could be slurped with, that was flexible and easy to use.  It was the job for Spork!

With its clear parallels with children from mixed cultures and races, this book offers a clear message that no matter what there is a place for all of us.  Nicely, it also speaks to those children who are a little different in other ways and may not fit in with the crowd in the cutlery drawer either.  Maclear writes with a gentle humor that is evident throughout the book.  The illustrations are a delight with their subtle color tones.  The engaging personalities of the cutlery are clear to the reader, especially the loneliness of Spork with his very rounded head.  Her use of digital mixed media works particularly well as cartoon faces intermingle with vintage line drawings.  The result is a very charming book.

A book that speaks to the loneliness and uniqueness in all of us, this is a warm way to introduce the subject of individuality being just fine.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Check out the trailer for the book:

Spork Trailer

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

Salted Fish–A Taste of Singapore


Salted Fish by Yeo Wei Wei, illustrated by Ye Shufang

Lynn is visiting an art museum for the first time.  She knows that the National Art Gallery will have lots of art inside it.  She and her toy bunny find a painting of fruit and then set out to see if they can find one with strawberries in it.  As they are looking, they smell something strange coming from one of the paintings.  As she counts things in the painting, she and her bunny hear a voice speaking from the painting.  Lynn finds herself drawn into the painting and learning about the way they are making salted fish.  The taste of the salted fish reminds her of her grandmother’s home.  As she leaves the painting with a bundle of fish to take with her, she promises to return to the art museum again.

The story here is told with a quiet, gentle voice.  Lynn’s interaction with the painting is not frightening at all, but an enthralling moment of connection.   It is what one hopes a child will experience at an art museum.  The story is built around a famous painting by Cheong Soo Pieng called Drying Salted Fish.  At the end of the book, information on the painting and the artist is shared. 

Shufang’s art is engaging with the bright-eyed child and the strong architectural lines of the building itself.  A muted palette that has pops of bright color at times adds to the quiet appeal of the book. 

This book gives young readers a small taste of Singapore which they will probably appreciate much more than the smell of salted fish!  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from book received from The National Art Gallery, Singapore.

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