________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 8 . . . . December 12, 1997

cover The Party.

Barbara Reid.
Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press, 1997.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.99.
ISBN 0-590-12385-8.

Subject Headings:
Parties-Juvenile fiction.
Family reunions-Juvenile fiction.
Play-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4

image All children who have reluctantly accompanied their parents to a "compulsory" family gathering will identify with the range of emotions found in The Party. Leaving playing friends behind, two sisters take a boring car ride to a party where, in addition to listening to relatives repeatedly comment, "Look how you've grown," they must endure "being kissed by Aunt Joan. The very worst part of the party." However, the day improves for the girls as their initial shyness around their numerous cousins dissipates and one children's game flows into another. The afternoon culminates in party food, with the centerpiece being a birthday cake bearing 90 candles [count them] to recognize Gran's birthday. Following supper, the once reluctant children now try to hide from their parents so that the day's fun will not have to end.

      Fans of Reid's Plasticine illustrations will continue to be amazed at her ability to manipulate this medium so as to create three-dimensional effects. Her tactile images range from the clear plastic wrap covering a bowl of salad to a table groaning with dishes and plates of food, including a shimmering jellied salad and rolled peanut butter sandwiches. Reid effectively captures emotions and action, and readers can almost feel Aunt Joan's looming lips being planted on their shrinking cheeks, leaving behind a deposit of sticky, over-applied lipstick. Because the illustrations' perspective remains that of a child, often adults are appropriately amputated at the waist. Ian Crysler's photography of his wife's finished products is superb, and his clever, out-of-focus photograph of the scene in which "We're spinning in circles until we get dizzy" is wonderfully "nauseating."

      Young readers [and old] will be able to return repeatedly to The Party for each new viewing only yields yet more details, from a lacy doily under a hair brush to the children's drooping socks, untied shoelaces and food-stained clothing, and a tear sliding from the eye of one member of the joyous family group singing "Happy Birthday" to Gran while bathed in the candles' yellow light.

      Absolutely outstanding, not only is The Party a must purchase by all public and school libraries, but it should also become a part of children's personal home collections.

      Barbara Reid's The Party was awarded a Governor-General's Literary Award in the Children's Literature - Illustration category and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award.

Highly recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.

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

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364