Spork Hardcover – Sep 1 2010
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Quill & Quire
Sporks, those laughable combinations of spoon and fork, have been around for a long time, although they have never quite made it into the mainstream of cutlery. In Kyo Maclear’s first picture book, the spork becomes a metaphor for in-betweenness, a symbol for all those who feel they are not quite this and not quite that.
Spork’s mother is a spoon, his father a fork. They love him dearly, but he can’t help feeling a little out of place alongside the carefully sorted utensils, all of which have a clearly defined shape and use. He tries to fit in by emphasizing first his roundness, then his spikes, but no one is fooled.
Spork eventually finds his place at the table when a “messy thing” shows up in the home, announced on the page by a huge red splash, and gradually revealed to be a toddler. For once, Spork is the perfect instrument: easy to grip, easy to stab and scoop with, and just right for a chubby fist.
Isabelle Arsenault’s flat-looking figures, randomized layouts, and limited colour palate are appropriately unconventional, and reminiscent of the wonderful creations of J. Otto Seibold (illustrator of such beloved books as Olive, the Other Reindeer). In one lovely spread, Spork imagines other combinational creatures, and Arsenault conjures up some fine gadgets – an egg timer with a straw, a cheese slicer/potato masher, a rolling-pin that doubles as a corkscrew, even a teapot-and-breadknife gizmo.
Spork’s message, that everyone has a place, is perhaps a little bit tired (at least to adults) but bears repeating, especially to “messy things” who have grown up enough to wonder where they fit in life’s table setting.
About the Author
Kyo Maclear is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her first book for children, Spork, has received a number of honors, including a 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award nomination. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Isabelle Arsenault has illustrated several children's books, including Spork, My Letter to the World and Other Poems and Mr. Gaugin's Heart. She has received many awards for her work, including the Governor General's Award for Illustration. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.
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Top Customer Reviews
When The Messy One is plunked in a nearby highchair one day, needing something a little different, there is no better tool for the task at hand.
Very good fun, will be enjoyed by utensils of every colour, size and shape, aged four and up.
Note: the publisher provided a review copy of Spork.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Until, that is, the day that the "messy thing" arrives at the table. The other cutlery are no match for this messy thing. This careless, impatient thing smears and splatters everywhere and the forks and spoons flee in terror, neither being quite right for the messy thing. But perhaps something that is a little bit of both spoon and fork would be just perfect. Spork finally gets his chance at the table, and it's a match made in heaven. The messy thing and Spork are both happy. Just right. There is, apparently, a purpose and a match for every utensil, no matter how different.
I'm white and my husband is black, so our daughters are, obviously, biracial. So far, they've always been in very diverse environments where their features are nothing terribly out of the ordinary. My older daughter (age four) is aware of racial issues on some level - she often compares how dark she and her sister are compared to her father and me. But she doesn't seem to think of herself as unusual or out of place. But I suppose it's a matter of time before both girls will be confronted by their biracial identity and have to make peace with it. This book is the perfect way to introduce the topic in a rather indirect way.
We checked this out at the library, but I promptly added it to my cart. I have a feeling this is a book we might need to haul out from time to time. Recommended especially for biracial kids and their parents, but really for anyone who's ever felt odd and out of place - and isn't that most of us?
As you might think, Spork feels quite out of place. To fit in, he tries to appear to more spoonish by wearing a bowler hat. This fools no one. He makes himself a paper crown to appear more forkish, but this too falls flat. At dinner time, Spork watches wistfully from the sidelines while others grace the dinner table. His feet remain dry while they enjoy a post-dinner bubble filled soak in the sink.
Until one day ... a very messy thing arrives in the kitchen. This thing has no table manners and slops food from one side of the kitchen to the other. The forks and spoons are in a tizzy because not one of them can keep up with the demands. The thing needs something that was neither spoon nor fork, but a bit of both. Enter Spork, who is just a bit round and just a bit pointy - absolutely perfect (for this thing called a baby)! And so Spork arrives at the dinner table and remains there for many, many meals to come.
Aw, I think this is such a cute book filled with beautiful illustrations. I would never have imagined a really great children's book would be written about something as mundane as a spork, but there you have it. All the utensils are drawn so sweetly, with unique expressions and clothing. And I love how the story is set up so that the cutlery drawer is a whole way of life. Smart writing and the wonderful illustrations make this a winner! And if you really need another reason, there's the little lesson of not discriminating against a utensil (or person) based on appearance.
That's how the book begins. Spork, about an odd piece of cutlery who is neither fork nor spoon and just doesn't fit in with the rest of the cutlery world, is just great. The idea of a `spork' is delicious and original whereas the theme, well, not so much because it's the usual protagonist can't-fit-in-until-his-difference-turns-out-to-be-a-good-thing-for-someone kind of a story. But I like the warmth and the quality of the writing and it's illustrations meet my `two a's" and "two e's" criteria: amusing and adorable, exciting and expressive.
Alluding to biracial ethnicity and finding an identity in a world of sameness, it's a story that anyone who has ever felt out of place for any reason at all can relate to and, hey, who hasn't? Humourous and touching, sweet and smart, what a good idea - a spork! (You had to think of it.)
To my surprise, when I received a box full of new titles from Kids Can Press, this was the first book that my 6-year-old son went for and read. I have no idea why. The artwork is simple and is not bold (though it's quite creative and interesting to look at, I wouldn't have thought it would have jumped out to a 6-year-old boy). Perhaps it's fond memories of Taco Bell, where the spork is in heavy rotation.
At any rate, this is a book that we've enjoyed more than once, and it has a nice message about being yourself (and that everyone has their own special gifts and purpose).
This book is adorable. It's about just being you. The illustrations are delightful. Think I'm going to have to buy a bunch of copies to give as gifts. Give it a try, read it, you'll like it too.