CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006
Celebrating the power of inventive play, Ruth Ohi has created a story of two young brothers transforming their very ordinary couch into an imaginary playground. The brothers, depicted as guinea pigs, use simple props to further the fantasies they create. A dishcloth becomes a royal cape or cowboy kerchief while a large blanket does duty as a circus trampoline, a stage curtain or a scary cave. As often happens with siblings, however, the game does not go smoothly. When the small one leaves in tears, the older one feels responsible and bereft. Imagining himself an intrepid hero, he welcomes back his little brother, and they cheerfully resume their game.
Using her characteristic cartoon illustrations, Ruth Ohi deftly portrays expressive emotions with only slight alterations of facial features. She uses double pages to full advantage in this story. The left side has a single-sentence text beneath an illustration showing what the brothers are actually doing while the right side has a full-page illustration portraying how they envision their fantasy. For instance, when the couch is "a boat that sprung a leak," we see one brother on the arm of the couch looking through a paper towel roll while his brother is sitting on the cushion turning a plate. The right side, however, pictures a storm-tossed pirate ship in which the older one peers through a telescope while his brother steers the ship. Throughout, two favourite stuffed toys are imaginatively transformed, and these will be joyfully spotted by preschoolers.
The Couch Was a Castle will delight very young children and may encourage them to enact exciting fantasies of their own.
Alison Mews is Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL.
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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.