________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 28 . . . . March 23, 2012


Doors in the Air.

David Weale. Illustrated by Pierre Pratt.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55469-250-7.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.


      Every second picture book being published these days seems to have a rhyming text, not always to the best effect. Rhyme does not shore up a weak story, and rhymes that don’t are awkward and jar the senses. All this is not to say that David Weale’s rhythmic verse doesn’t work, because it does. It begins:

My house has a roof
To keep out the weather
And walls on the sides
To hold it together.
Windows for light
Closets for clothes
A spooky old cellar
Where nobody goes.

internal art       Doors in the Air is almost Seussian in meter, but the imaginary places and events don’t start showing up until well along. Halfway through the book we have:

But doors open wide
To let me pass through
Like rain down a spout
Or smoke up a flue…
Just close your eyes tight
And reach out your hand
Then slip through a door
To a faraway land.

      The metaphor of doors moves from the everyday features of a little boy’s comfortable house to worlds of imagination and opportunity. The theme of not losing chances to try new things and go new places, both physically and in the mind, is hardly hidden. And it’s off the Shangri-La at the end:

You are indeed
A silver key
So all you need to do
Is open a door
To a shimmering shore
And go sailing right on through.

      Pierre Pratt has contributed striking acrylic illustrations in vibrant shades. His plants and birds are exotic, his architectural detail unusual. (Even near the start of the book, stairs shoot up and out at an angle that seems unlikely to get you to the second floor.) Pratt is a Québécois artist who has illustrated many of Francois Gravel’s picture book texts, and he is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Illustration.

      Weale is a magazine editor and television script-writer as well as being the author of several other children’s books (Three Tall Trees, The True Meaning of Crumbfest) and hails from Prince Edward Island.

      Recommended for most public library picture book collections, and sure to be a hit at a storytime about expanding boundaries.


Ellen Heaney is Head, Children’s Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New Westminster, BC.

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

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