CM . . . . Volume XX Number 8 . . . . October 25, 2013
In Paula Bossio's wordless picture book, The Line, a young girl stumbles across a single line on the ground. She follows the line and discovers that it is much more than she first imagined. With a twist and a shake, it transforms into a variety of things, including a slide, bubbles, and a monkey. The line also transforms into a fierce monster. Just as the monster appears about to devour the little girl, the line becomes a cuddly saviour.
Bossio is originally from Colombia. In 2009, she moved to Spain, but she now lives in Australia. She has been honoured for her illustrations with awards in a number of countries, including Japan, India, and Mexico. The Line was originally published in Spanish in Mexico in 2011; of course, as a wordless book, the Spanish edition presumably was different only in title and in the copyright page.
The artwork was rendered in pencil, with only grey and red used before the surprising appearance of blue on the final page. The paper is presented as grubby and smudged, as if this is merely an illustrator's old doodle book. Indeed, the illustrations also carry the appearance of doodles-there are few clean, crisp lines, and what colouring there is has been scratched on in a deliberately messy, heavily textured fashion.
Although the simplicity of the illustrations may appeal to some children, we prefer more refined artwork. It is possible that the illustrations are the product of considerable planning; however, they appear as if simply scribbled across the page. While the idea for the book is creative, it is not unique. Some parents or grandparents will be reminded of Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson, 1955) and are likely to prefer that book to Bossio's.
The Line will help some young readers free their imaginations and produce their own story adventures. A teacher might want to have children respond to the book by laying out lines of yarn and seeing what each child can create. The book could also inspire children to see what their own sketchbook doodles might transform into.
While there are some things to like about The Line and the ways in which it can be used, we believe it will lack wide appeal. Some readers will, however, enjoy Bossio's work and find it highly creative and engaging.
Recommended with reservations.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches children's literature classes.
Kelsey Sukich is a teacher candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. Through her church's children's programs, she enjoys sharing books with children.
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