CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 17 . . . . April 25, 2003
Amber Waiting. (Northern Lights Books
Gregory. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
1 / Ages 3-6.
by Alison Mews.
Waiting so long
every day gives Amber time to plan. One day she'll find out how
to fly, and when she does, she'll pick up her dad and fly him away
to the moon. She'll tell him, "I'll be back in no time."
Then she'll swing
high in cold places with penguins and hot places where elephants
are. Her feet will touch rooftops! Dads all over the world will
winners Nan Gregory and Kady MacDonald Denton have teamed up to create
this attractive picture book, but unfortunately the story is dissatisfying
on several levels. It concerns a child named Amber who loves Kindergarten
but hates having to wait for her dad. While waiting in the corridor
one day, she imagines what it would be like if she could make him
wait for her for a change while she does marvelous things, and when
she finally returns for him, he'll understand about waiting. When
Amber's father does breeze in and is taken to task by the school secretary
for being an hour late, he gives no apologies but "smiles his
famous smile." As they're leaving Amber asks him whether he's
ever had to wait for someone "scared and lonely" and he
finally seems to see waiting from her perspective. But as the book
ends with them happily going off home together, we can only hope that
he will mend his tardy ways. Rather than being open-ended, however,
the story feels unfinished. The father seems particularly insensitive
to his small child, the school allows a Kindergarten child to wait
in an unsupervised area, and the child's fantasy of teaching her dad
a lesson seems to be glorified petulance. The questions remain unanswered:
Why is he always late? Will he pick her up on time from now on?
MacDonald Denton's trademark cartoon-like illustrations depict a happy
little Kindergarten girl who progressively becomes bored, exasperated
and angry as her dad doesn't show. Denton shows the school clock steadily
marking time, and her visual portrayal of Amber's daydream reinforces
this with various watch-faces, including one inscribed in the ice
by Amber's skates.
this book will strike a chord with every child who has ever had to
wait for a grownup, I found the story disturbing. I find it hard to
see this as a story that teachers would share with their Kindergarten
classes, or that parents (tardy or timely) would read to their own
children. Overall, I do not feel I can recommend this story.
Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Faculty
of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's NF.
on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
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.
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