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|Rules of summer|
Author: Tan, Shaun
Two boys explain the occasionally mysterious "rules" they learned over the summer, like never eat the last olive at a party, never ruin a perfect plan, and never give your keys to a stranger.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/15/14)
School Library Journal (+) (05/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (07/14)
The Hornbook (00/05/14)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/15/2014 Tan (The Bird King, 2013) continues to wow readers with his expansive, surreal images. Here, a series of loosely linked pictures suggest a fantastical summer shared by two brothers. Each full-page painting is paired with a one-sentence rule related to the accompanying scene. For instance, “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline” appears next to an image of the two boys crouching against a wall while a seriously giant red rabbit glares at the single sock drying in the sun. How the boys arrived in such a situation is unclear, but speculating is half the fun. “Never leave the back door open” precedes a painting of the two brothers overlooking a living room brimming with an otherworldly forest. Though the rules are occasionally confounding and don’t lend themselves to a clear narrative, and the paintings are tinged with a growing sense of menace that might frighten young readers, Tan’s mesmerizing, gorgeous art is as beautiful and entrancing as ever and will likely have wide appeal well outside the usual picture-book audience, especially among imaginative teen artists. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Tan is a New York Times best-seller, and it’s no surprise. His genre-spanning work has attracted a loyal and well-deserved fan base. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2014 Gr 1–4—Right from the endpapers featuring an ominously shadowed street on which two boys stand in silhouette—one clearly older whispering into the younger child's ear—readers are clued into a familiar sibling dynamic: big brother sets the rules; little brother is always one step behind, doing his best to follow along. It's too bad for little brother that the rules are nearly impossible to anticipate: "Never leave a red sock on the clothesline" is accompanied by the image of the terrified boys hiding from a house-sized red rabbit on the hunt for the crimson article. Some rules seem designed to teach ("Never eat the last olive at a party"), while others simply reinforce the power dynamic ("Never ask for a reason"). Tan's oil paintings, with their masterful layering of color and impressionistic plays on light and shadow, toy with the ordinary and the surreal. At its heart, this is a story about sibling relationships, and Tan artfully captures the frustration, sadness, and joy of what it means to be brothers. The sophistication of the visual narrative paired with the simplicity of the text invites multiple readings and opportunities for discussion. Sumptuous and sincere—this title is a winner.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 07/01/2014 Big brothers set the rules, and little brothers violate them at their peril. Such is the lesson learned in this lushly eccentric summer interlude where a young boy tries to keep up with his imaginative older brother; text is almost entirely limited to the rules themselves, while illustrations reveal the stories behind them, the consequences of their breach, and the relationship behind the trajectory. At first the older sibling comforts and protects his younger brother from the fantasy consequences; for instance, when the younger boy breaks the rule “never leave a red sock on the clothesline,” a huge red rabbit threatens the scene while the boys huddle together in hiding. Soon, though, the younger boy starts to test his limits against these arbitrary rules, and his big brother lets the consequences play out, excluding the boy when he tries to argue or ask for a reason. Finally, the younger boy is left all alone, imprisoned in the lonely shelter of waiting for an apology until, presumably, the older brother decides that a pesky little brother is better than no companion at all and gives in so that they can enjoy the last day of summer together. Tan is a master of the cryptic visual metaphor, providing just enough guidance through the few words to allow readers to construct their own analogous situations of coping with a sibling, whether they are the controlling ones or the annoying tagalongs. The oversized format encourages sustained attention to the painterly textures and quirky details while also suggesting the fragile bond between the boys in a much larger world; beyond richly colored backgrounds, Tan makes his human figures small in a landscape that’s relatively barren in terms of realistic urban structures but abounding in fantasy creatures. The effect is an externalization of the deeply felt emotions of childhood, and it is heightened by the smallness of the single lines of text centered on mostly blank verso pages that feature only accidental scribbles, as if to indicate that so much of what happens can’t be put into words, and words themselves tell less than half the story. KC - Copyright 2014 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.