It was a delight on a Sunday morning to approach the stack of Antoinette Portis’ books to review for KidsPlay’s Author of the Month basket! I felt the adult pull to watch Meet the Press on in the next room, but I paid attention to the child in me that was drawn to each title resting on my dining room table.
One by one, I found each book to be a delightful read that celebrates children’s imaginations in the context of adult viewpoints. The texts were simple and repetitive, without rhyme but with delicious humor, offered thoughtful big ideas, and showed great respect for children.
Not a Box and Not a Stick underscore the limitless possibilities that grow from a child’s imagination vs. the limited practicality of adulthood. What great reminders to look through a child’s eyes at the world around us to see possibilities!
Antoinette Portis uses simple texts and big ideas. She offers memorable closings that resonate and touch the mind and heart. Now, we follow a child relishing each moment of playful “now” with the final words to his/her parent, “This is my favorite now because it’s the one I am having with you.”
In A Penguin Story, we search with an unusual penguin who wants to find some color in the world other than the limited white snow, blue water, and black night. He eventually encounters orange when he comes across tents, gloves, and uniforms of scientific explorers. They leave him with a handshake and an orange glove. The story leaves us with his words, “I’ll never get tired of looking,” and, the ending, “What else could there be?” It’s a lovely way to capture a child’s sense of wonder and discovery, and an inviting way to take us adults along on the journey.
Portis encourages us to delight in sounds and “being silly” in Froodle, Princess Super Kitty, and Best Frints at Skrool as she engages us in page-turning stories. Descriptions on the back covers emphasize her emphasis on “portraits of friendships” and tickling her readers by being “wonderfully wacky,” “sweetly demented,” and “irresistible.”
The tug of war between grown-up and child in Wait! urges us to pay attention to the world and words of children. There are only two words repeated on the pages of this book, but many engaging situations as the adult implores, “Hurry!” and the child sees intriguing things in each situation, urging the grown-up to “Wait!”
I hope that you will enjoy not hurrying past our Author of the Month book basket. I encourage you to take a moment to “wait” and share one of Antoinette Portis’ books with your favorite little person at KidsPlay. I know I chose well to “wait” and enjoy each book by this delightful author on a bright Sunday morning. Every one of her books is a treasure.
by Patty Cassella, Learning Experience Specialist
“Antoinette Portis is indeed a super-kiddie book writer with an extraordinary ear to tell a delightful little tale.” (Maurice Sendak, award-winning children’s author).
Antoinette Portis’s debut picture book, Not a Box (2007), was a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, and her six subsequent titles have appeared on bestseller and “best of” lists. She was awarded a Sendak Fellowship in 2010. Her newest title, Wait, is an affectionate look at a mother who’s in a hurry and a toddler who says “Wait!”