CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 2. . . .September 11, 2009
The Stella and Sam books have been enormously successful since they first appeared 10 years ago, and children have been clamouring to learn more about Stella. Consequently, in this latest (and, hopefully, not last) instalment of books about the sibling duo, Marie-Louise Gay takes them back to when Stella was first exploring the magical world around her. As an older child, Stella happily blurs the line between fantasy and reality in her inventive responses to Sam's questions, and this accounts for much of the comedy and charm. But Sam was not part of Stella's world when she was small, so here Gay relies instead on visual gags. When Stella thinks that "words looked like ants running off the pages," Gay depicts actual ants escaping the printed page and scarpering over the dog on their way out the door. She exaggerates the discrepancy between text and illustration; so Stella's "ferocious man-eating tiger" (a striped cat) and her "desert that stretched on forever" (her sandbox) will have little ones in giggles. As always, Gay's whimsical watercolours perfectly portray an energetic preschooler's play.
Kid-friendly and without a hint of condescension, Stella's childhood perceptions reflect the perspective of her readership. Children feel very grown-up and accomplished when they recall their own past challenges and compare them with their current abilities. They will be delighted to hear Stella's reminiscences and will identify with her joy in sharing her big sisterly 'knowledge' with Sam. A fitting tribute to the 10th anniversary of Stella and Sam.
Alison Mews is the Librarian at the Curriculum Materials Centre in the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland in 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.