CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 16. . . .December 21, 2012
Vashti is frustrated because her page is still blank after art class. Her teacher gives her this advice: "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." Vashti grabs a marker and jabs a solitary dot in the middle of the page. To her surprise, the art teacher makes Vashti sign it. The next week, Vashti's dot is framed and is hanging above the teacher's desk.
Seeing her dot hanging on the wall encourages Vashti to try harder. She embarks on a creative journey that involves painting dots of all colours and sizes, each one getting more and more elaborate than the last until she has enough for the school art show a few weeks later.
At the art show, Vashti sees a young boy admiring her art. The young boy, like Vashti a few weeks before, doesn't believe that he can draw. Vashti hands the boy a blank page and gets him to draw a squiggly line on it. She looks at it and hands it back to him, saying, "Now sign it."
Reynolds' watercolour illustrations match the mood and the feel of the text wonderfully. In the first few pages, the colours are muted greys and blues to reflect the discouragement felt by Vashti. The angry red where Vashti stabs out her first dot is the first bit of real colour in the story. Once Vashti's creativity takes off, readers see much more complex colours and patterns in the dots and on the page.
Reynolds has written a delicate fable about the creative process and the ability to make one's mark. This simple and witty story vividly shows what can happen when a teacher takes the time to encourage a struggling student. At the end of the story, this encouragement gets passed on to another student through Vashti. Vashti demonstrates to the young boy that his own mark, however modest, has value.
The Dot can be enjoyed by all ages, and its simple message holds a gentle reminder for all of us: "Just make your mark and see where it takes you."
Trevor Lockhart is a librarian with the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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