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Volume VIII Number 1 . . . . September 7, 2001
On Monday,The haunting poem and sinister illustrations of The Follower, Richard Thompson's latest collaboration with Martin Springett, is certain to create a delicious thrill of fear in young listeners. Each day of the week during her walk home, a young witch is followed by a mysterious "it." She passes by an assortment of terrifying objects (both inanimate and otherwise!) including huge marble statues, skeletal trees, Bogeyman's Bog, a Gunny Wolf, barking dogs and monstrous ogres, but each time she turns around, "it" is gone. Not until the last page does the reader discovers "its" identity. Thompson's use of cumulative repetition and rhyme reinforces the suspense and makes this book a perfect one for beginning readers to "practice" on after they have heard it.
The Follower is a beautiful book. Each piece of text is inset into Springett's shadowy illustrations, all of which are done in muted colours perfectly capturing the dark, nightmarish mood of the story. The artist's clever foreshadowing of the ending will delight young readers as they go back through the book to find the clues which will solve the mystery. Martin Springett is a wonderfully versatile artist. He has won the Aurora Award for Fantasy and Science Fiction Illustration and the CLA Notable Book designation for his work on children's books. Richard Thompson's most recent work, There is Music in a Pussy Cat, was the third title in the Fitzhenry and Whiteside series of "First Flight Early Readers." His 1994 collaboration with Martin Springett, the picture book entitled Who, earned a nomination for the Governor General's Literary Award.
The Follower will make a worthwhile addition to the library's collection of "scary Hallowe'en" books. Teachers and librarians should find it an excellent read-aloud for primary children at any time of year, and it is certain to inspire young readers to attempt to read it on their own thereafter.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.