Quill & Quire
It’s fairly well known that iconic children’s author Robert Munsch uses real kids and the stories they tell him as inspirations for the characters and situations in his work. His latest effort is no different, though the means by which the children who appear in this story got there is interesting.
After writing to Munsch, a Grade 2 class in North Bay, Ontario, received a letter in return with a story about a girl who gets “put into a book” – literally. The class then created their own illustrated version, acting out the story and taking pictures of themselves, and sent a copy to Munsch. He was so impressed by their effort, he decided to publish the story with the class as the characters.
The story itself is classic Munsch, in the best possible way, though it lacks some of the whimsy and repetitive rhythms of many of his earlier tales. When Hailey and her class encounter a writer on a park bench, she asks to be put into the book he is working on. The writer obliges, folding her up and stuffing her into the pages. It’s up to Hailey’s classmates to figure out how to rescue her, which they do through trial and error.
Munsch’s onomatopoeic writing jumps off the page, while frequent collaborator Michael Martchenko’s watercolour illustrations imbue each page with a riot of visual stimulation that is sure to keep even non-readers mesmerized. Clever use of different typographic styles for key words adds visual interest and provides cues for adults reading aloud to make their delivery as Munschian as possible.
Though it is unlikely to attain the level of popularity of Love You Forever or Mortimer, this latest creation is an entertaining romp, and a welcome addition to the Munsch/Martchenko canon.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
MICHAEL MARTCHENKO's illustrations are as instantly identifiable and lovable as Robert Munsch's stories. His wild and colourful pictures add depth and even more hilarity to these picture book tales. He received the Canadian Booksellers' Association Children's Illustrator of the Year Libris Award in 2006. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.