________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 3 . . . .September 28, 2007


My New Shirt.

Cary Fagan. Illustrated by Dušsan Petriscic.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2007.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-715-9.

Subject Heading:
Gifts-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4



"Oh Da-a-v-i-i-d!" calls my mom in a sing-song voice. "It's time to visit your bubbie. Today is your special day and she has something for you."


It is David's birthday, and he well knows what "something" his grandmother has for him. It will be a box containing a white shirt wrapped in tissue paper, exactly like the while shirt that his grandmother gave him "...last year. And the last year. And the year before that."

"How gorgeous!" his mother exclaims when he unwraps the shirt.

"Everybody looks good in a white shirt," his dad remarks.

     But David knows that this birthday shirt is identical to all the other stiff white shirts his "bubbie" has given him on his special day. It has a scratchy label that will rub against the back of his neck. It will make him squirm and shift and twitch. Closing his eyes for a moment, David sees a closet full of rows of endless rows of white shirts. His mother's scream interrupts his vision. What has he done to cause that scream? David opens his eyes. Could he really have thrown Bubbie's present out the window? How fortunate that he has brought his dog Pupik with him. It's Pupik to the rescue - almost! The story ends with a mad-cap shirt-dragging chase through the neighborhood, an adventure that leads Bubbie to rethink her ideas on birthday gifts for small boys.

internal art      Author Cary Fagan is an accomplished writer whose body of work includes books both for children and adults. He won a Mr. Christie Silver medal for Daughter of the Great Zanini (2001) and has recently published Directed by Kaspar Snit, a sequel to The Fortress of Kaspar Snit, a whimsical novel for readers in the 9 to 12 year-old range. Fagan has received critical praise for two short novels, Sleeping Weather (1997)and The Doctor's House, published in 2001.

      My New Shirt is a small gem of a story which brings comedy and character into focus in a lovingly depicted setting. Dušsan Petriscic, an award-winning artist who has illustrated more than 20 children's books, has chosen to bring the story to life by drawing a series of comical soft-coloured "photographs" (giving Fagan's tale the appearance of a scrapbook). His hilarious depiction of the characters in Fagan's book will be enjoyed by readers of all ages and should engender some interesting discussion with an audience of 5 to 8 year olds.


A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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