________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 11. . . .November 14, 2014


Eerie Dearies: 26 Ways to Miss School.

Rebecca Chaperon.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2014.
64 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927018-40-8.

Subject Headings:
School attendance-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Elizabeth Marshall.

**** /4



A is for Astral Projection


Vancouver-based artist Rebecca Chaperon’s gothic themed ABC book is reminiscent of Hilaire Belloc’s 1907 Cautionary Tales for Children and Edward Gorey’s 1963 The Gashlycrumb Tinies: A Very Gorey Alphabet Book. Each of the heroines in this creative book suffers a fate or malady that keeps her from attending school. The 26 reluctant schoolgirls are faced with a number of emotions, illnesses, and misadventures that cause them to be absent, including Ennui, Narcolepsy and the Zombie Apocalypse to name just a few. The book is by turns creepy (T is for Teleportation), disturbing (K is for Kidnapped), and funny (J is for Juvenile Delinquent).

internal art     Rendered in acrylics, each stunning illustration is a two-page spread. The left page features the letter and what it stands for and the opposite page an image of the heroine. Each young girl (or part of her) appears against the backdrop of an old, worn book cover. On the “L is for Lost” page, for instance, the torso of a headless girl in vintage inspired white oxford with yellow tie, a green knee length skirt, and high-heeled boots holds a flashlight that illuminates the forest where she searches for her head. The vintage book in the background includes the word “before” embossed in gold letters on the spine and features images of ships and anchors on its cover, capturing the theme of loss and discovery. Throughout the rest of the book, the images continue to complement and extend the minimalist text.

internal art      The book is a welcome relief to over sentimentalized images of girls as princess or sweet innocents that so often appear in popular culture. For instance, “G is for Gremlins” pictures a young girl interrupted while eating cereal with the background a book entitled “Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls” while “R is for Revenge” features a fierce girl, holding a large knife against a faded pinkish book cover that reads, “Now We are Enemies.”

      Eerie Dearies is a refreshing contribution to the picture book genre as it confounds simplistic definitions of audience, form, and content. This ABC book will be a favourite for irreverent readers as well as those who would prefer to fantasize about being abducted by aliens rather than enduring the drudgery of the schoolroom.

Highly Recommended.

Elizabeth Marshall, a former elementary school teacher, researches and teaches children's literature and young adult literature in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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