Sean O'Huigin. Illustrated by Barbara di Lella.
Windsor, ON: Black Moss Press, 1984.
unpaged, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-88753-118-0. CIP.
Grades 1 and up / Ages 6 and up
Reviewed by Fran Newman.
Volume 13 Number 1
The poet has called it "a strange book for children" and it is. The idea is that you should imagine that you are young and that you wake up one morning and can see one image out of your right eye and another from your left. Thus:
You run to tell people about this marvellous thing, and they say "That's nice." (It is interesting that o'huigin uses not one capital or punctuation except when writing conversation: one wonders why do it then?) You continue, and see two different school settings, and when the teacher says, "That's fine," you begin to get a little worried. When you leave school, your left eye is seeing Jamaica and your right eye Hudson Bay. You start to feel unwell. The next morning your eyes begin to get stranger images: the left has your mother doing mother-type things, and the right has a monkey doing mother-type things. Later your left eye sees your normal room, and your right eye sees a grizzly bear sitting on your sister and a turtle eating a pancake of seaweed and a polka-dotted eagle, and then your father comes in the room and your right eye and left eye see the same things, and you are cured.
A grade 2 teacher said, "I don't get the point of it." It is very difficult to read aloud, since you read down the left-eye column, then down the right, turn the page, and you are forced to leave the right eye happening in the middle, switch back to the left eye story, finish it, then come back to the right eye. Do I make myself clear?
Barbara di Lella has made a good effort to make the illustrations follow the text. Sometimes she has two pictures, one for each eye; sometimes she amalgamates the double vision in one drawing.
sean o'huigin has visited our school. The students love hearing him do Pickles and Scary Poems for Rotten Kids ¹ (Black Moss, 1982). I wonder how he will make this one work orally.
Fran Newman, Spring Valley P.S., Brighton, ON.
¹ Reviewed vol. Xl/4 July 1983, p.l69.