CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 27 . . . . March 16, 2012
Out of the Way! Out of the Way!
Uma Krishnaswami. Illustrated by Krishnaswamy.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2012.
28 pp., hardcover & e-book, $17.95 (hc), $17.95 (e-book).
ISBN 978-1-55498-130-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-1210-3.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Lara LeMoal.
… rushing there and back again
rutted and drummed and pounded the lane
until it flowed like a river around the tree,
getting out of its way, out of its way.
One first notices Out of the Way! Out of the Way! because of its beautiful design and production. The bright orange cover and decorated endpapers suggest appealing content to follow, and do not disappoint. Author Uma Krishnaswami and Illustrator Uma Krishnaswamy succeed in creating a coherent vision – a true picture book in its interwoven relationship between image and text.
This is a simple story about the passage of time. Unlike the standard linear narrative- from beginning to end- the text and images of this particular story circle around the page, bleeding one into the next, and offer a sense of continuity that seems to be the intent of the tale. Time and life pass inexorably, “going from here to there and back again.”
In Out of the Way! Out of the Way!, the reader is introduced to a young boy who is intent on saving a small tree. This young tree exists precariously in the middle of a busy path and so risks being destroyed by the rush of people and cars. The tree grows larger, and the path of people adapts to accommodate it. The writing style provides a strong assured voice that is both beautifully poetic and simple. Alliteration (“the tree’s trunk thickened”), and use of repetition, (“out of the way, out of the way!”) lend a musical quality to the story.
The author’s use of the list as a poetic device gives a great deal of depth and detail to the story. Whether naming the items used to build a nest or the vehicles seen on the street, this use of categorization both adds texture to the story, itself, and also unexpectedly teaches the pleasure of grouping concepts. This categorization subtly highlights the subplot that these items that make up a changing life are simultaneously important, and yet also unimportant.
The illustrations contain so many implied narratives that we are never required to follow just one train of thought. Our eyes are encouraged to wander. The pen and ink illustrations are haphazard in feel, yet are precisely placed—colour outside the lines, as well as inside, gives a dream-like quality and openness that supports the feel of the text. Out of the Way! Out of the Way! reaches a consummate balance between fantasy and reality – where colourful, odd lollipop-like trees, and practically placed satellite dishes exist happily together.
Groundwood adds yet another superior title to their long list of imaginative picture books. An accidental kind of learning occurs when reading Out of the Way! Out of the Way! — and isn’t that the best kind?
Lara LeMoal is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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