CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 18 . . . .May 12, 2006
Texas author and illustrator Annette Simon uses the state bird of Texas, the Mockingbird, as the inspiration for her children’s picture book, Mocking Birdies.
Her illustrations are simple and attractive. She uses bright primary colours, and her characters and backgrounds are done in simple geometric patterns – circles, semi-circles and triangles. This is, visually, a very attractive book for young children.
The narrative begins with that age-old childhood mischief (in which most readers have likely indulged) of one character mocking another by repeating everything the other says. Just like that game, the narrative begins amusingly and quickly crosses over into the annoying. The mocking increases in length and complexity. The narrative loses its rhythm and rhyme and becomes verbal noise.
The story features a red and a blue mockingbird who spend most of the story mocking each other and promoting their own colour. They eventually discover that, by singing their respective red and blue songs together, they make “purple.” Not only does the story lack an interesting plot, the text goes from left to right linear type to appearing vertically in boxes and on a later page in staggered entries. This adds to the narrative confusion and is distracting both for story-teller and audience.
Barb Taylor, of Calgary, AB, is a pre-kindergarten teacher and a freelance writer.
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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.