Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Willow

Willow

Denise Brennan-Nelson
Illustrator:  Cyd Moore 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008   ISBN: 978-1585363421

Miss Hawthorn teaches art and she is the coldest, strictest, most uncreative art teacher you are ever likely to meet. All the students in her classes are terrified of her, and they do exactly what she tells them to do. Except Willow. Willow does not like to sit in her seat rigidly the way the other children do, and when she is asked to paint a picture of a tree, her painting shows a pink tree with waving branches instead of a stiff looking tree with a brown trunk and green leaves. After Miss Hawthorn tells Willow that there is no such thing as a pink tree, Willow brings an art book to school and shows her teacher that she is not the only one who 'sees' pink trees when she closes her eyes. Other artists, famous ones, have seen similar things. Miss Hawthorn is not best pleased.

She is similarly annoyed when Willow paints a blue apple instead of a red one. When Miss Hawthorn criticizes Willow's picture saying that blue apples don's exist, Willow proves her wrong by bringing the teacher a blue apple and by showing her a picture of a blue apple in her art book.

All through the fall Willow does things that annoy Miss Hawthorn. The little girl simply refuses to paint pictures the way the teacher wants her to. And she will not sit in the class like a robot either. Willow has her own style and it classes with what Miss Hawthorn thinks is right. And then Willow does something unexpected and everything changes.

In this delightful picture book, sisters Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan show their readers that there is nothing wrong with thinking and creating outside of the box. Indeed they show young people that allowing ones creativity to be stifled is an awful waste. Instead we need to use our imaginations, be spontaneous, and enjoy the creative process.

The delightful story in this book is accompanied by Cyd Moore's distinctive, vibrant, and instantly recognizable artwork. Fans of the Stinky Face books will recognize Cyd Moore's joyful use of color and her obvious joie de vivre.



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