THE DOT

Peter H. Reynolds, Author, Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator
Peter H. Reynolds, Author, Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator . Candlewick $14 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-1961-9
Reviewed on: 10/20/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Hardcover - 978-0-7882-0331-2
Hardcover - 978-0-7882-0332-9
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-0-9769313-0-0
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-7445-9345-7
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-1-4619-0862-3
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In this engaging, inspiring tale, Reynolds (illustrator of the Judy Moody series) demonstrates the power of a little encouragement. Minimal narrative and art elucidate the plight of Vashti, who sulks next to her blank paper at the end of art class: "I just can't draw!" The art teacher sagely responds, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." The scowling girl takes a marker and jabs at her paper, making a minuscule dot. The teacher "pushed the paper toward Vashti and quietly said, 'Now sign it.' " When Vashti returns the following week, her signed picture hangs in a gilded frame over her art teacher's desk, which inspires the budding painter to greater feats. A later spread, guaranteed to evoke smiles, reveals an extensive display of Vashti's dot paintings (and even a similarly themed sculpture) at the school art show, where a boy praises her for being "a really great artist." When he insists that he can't draw, she emulates her art teacher's example. Rendered in watercolor, ink and tea, Reynolds's spare, wispy illustrations exude a fresh, childlike quality pleasingly in sync with his hand-lettered text. Offering a rare balance of subtlety and hyperbole, this small-format volume should give reticent young artists a boost of confidence—and encourage spontaneity in their artistic expression. Reynolds pulls off exactly what his young heroine does, creating an impressive work from deceptively simple beginnings. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)

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