________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 40. . . .June 18, 2010


Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth!

Marie-Louise Gay.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-994-8.

Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 2-5.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4



What are you going to do today, Roslyn?” asked her father.

Roslyn munched loudly on her carrot flakes. :

I am going to dig the Biggest Hole on Earth,” she announced.

“Sounds like a good idea,” said her father.

Every day is a new adventure for little children who see no task as impossible. Roslyn the Rabbit is the same, and, as she chews her carrot cereal one morning, she sets her sights on digging her way to China or the Antarctic to visit the penguins.

    Marie-Louise Gay’s oeuvre now takes up a good part of a shelf in most school libraries. Among her many honours, Gay was awarded the Governor-General Literary Award for illustration for Rainy Day Magic in 1987 and again in 2000 for Yuck, a Love Story. She is an accomplished children’s writer and illustrator. Her stories express the vibrancy of a child’s imagination and the tenderness of their relationships, as exemplified by her popular “Stella” series, in which Stella, the knowing Big Sister, guides Little Brother Sam into adventure.

     internal artGazing over his newspaper and morning coffee through Gay’s trademark whimsical and lively art, Roslyn’s father indulges her. Roslyn begins digging, but she soon discovers that there is a lot going on underneath the top layer of the Earth. The worms object to being displaced, a grouchy mole is awakened from his nap, and, finally, Roslyn disturbs a dog’s stash of bones.

     It’s all too much for the little tyke who is growing tired after working so hard. Her father joins her in the hole where they share a picnic of carrot sandwiches and wonder if penguins would enjoy the same cuisine. It’s a typical morning’s work for a child. A good meal with a loving parent and a nap will make any disappointments disappear.

    Little children will identify with Roslyn in this simple, fun story. Gay’s artistry adds to the reading experience. She combines watercolours with a variety of materials subtly blended together in soft tones, and she draws her characters with delicate, wry expressions. Her illustrations are busy without being overdone, with lots of things for a child to look at, from scraps of paper with Chinese writing to fish bones and pretty flowers.

   Just like Stella, Roslyn is intrepid, and it would be no surprise if we meet her again. (Maybe she’ll progress from eating carrots to turnips as she gets older!).

   Roslyn will inspire young children to adventurous dreams at bedtime. Parents should expect to find holes in their own gardens, too.

   It’s the unflinching faith in accomplishment that makes for wonderful childhood memories. Marie-Louise Gay understands this and shares her passion for this magical time of life.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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