________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 15. . . .December 11, 2009

cover

Just a Walk. Rev. ed.

Jordan Wheeler. Illustrated by Christopher Auchter.
Penticton, BC: Theytus Books, 2009.
32 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-894778-82-4.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Todd Kyle.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

One day Chuck decided to go for a walk.

He didn't know where, so he followed a hawk.

Down to the river he watched the hawk fly,

And Chuck followed after, watching the sky.

Over the river he saw the hawk dash.

But Chuck didn't look, and he fell in with a splash.

He was all soaking wet, did it matter to him?

Not until he remembered he couldn't swim.

 

In this rhyming picture book, adapted from an oral presentation by Wheeler, a Cree scriptwriter, Chuck decides to take a walk. He runs into one precipitous situation after another, from almost drowning in the falls, to being chased up a tree, to riding on the back of a bear, to being picked up by an eagle and then a hawk who dumps him back at his own home in a puddle of muck.

internal art     Although not brilliant, the rhymes are bouncy enough, and one can almost imagine kids roaring the rhyme at the end of each couplet after Wheeler has dramatically set each one up. A person can't help but smile when, instead of raining "cats and dogs," it rains Chuck! With Chuck being carried by the original hawk back to his home, the story, however nonsensical, has a sense of completeness about it. The last page, where Chuck's mother pounces on him for having been gone all day, is a little disappointing, but Chuck's wry explanation that "I just went for a walk" is enough to satisfy.

      The illustrations, by Haida animator and illustrator Christopher Auchter, have a cartoonish feel that is sometimes a bit maudlin but certainly action-filled, full of caricature and ridiculous facial expressions. Until I realized Chuck was meant to be Aboriginal, I was a little put off by his buck-toothed appearance it reminded me of stereotypical Asian faces of a past era. And while the art doesn't quite communicate the awe for nature that we often expect of Native works, it certainly makes it all look fun!

Recommended.

Todd Kyle is a public library manager in Mississauga, ON, who has served on the jury of several children's literature awards in both official languages.

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
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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