Bound To Stay Bound

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Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 06/01/2017 *Starred Review* French author-illustrator Alemagna, whose spirited The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy (2015) won a Batchelder Award, brings her distinctive style and childlike perspective to the page once more with an inspired tale of boredom. A downpour at an isolated cabin drowns a child’s hope of weekend fun, particularly after Mom confiscates a handheld video game. Consigned to the dripping outdoors, the child—who passes for either gender—dons a neon orange raincoat and steps out into an unpromising world of stormy grays and woodsy browns and greens. After some half-hearted exploration, the bored youth slumps despairingly beneath a tree. Suddenly, four large snails appear, and the child follows them through the forest, which no longer seems so dull. There is an increase in drama as each of the child’s senses is triggered by a new discovery in the woods: a patch of red-capped mushrooms; a damp smell like “my grandparents’ basement. My cave of treasures”; squelchy mud; raindrops on the child’s tongue—each is seen, felt, or tasted with growing excitement. Throughout, the child is a literal bright spot on the page, vivid against Alemagna’s rain-streaked mixed-media illustrations, which incorporate subtle wax-pencil doodles that echo childhood’s penchant for magical thinking. Yet, these imaginings never become fantastical departures from reality, because here true magic is found in the simple but transformative act of experiencing nature. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 08/01/2017 PreS-Gr 2—In this story from France, a mother and young child arrive at a remote cabin in the pouring rain, and all the protagonist wants to do is play an electronic game on the couch. When mom insists that the kid go outside, the youngster takes the game along for protection from "this boring, wet place" but drops it in the pond. At first, the child is desolate, like "a small tree trapped outside in a hurricane." But then the protagonist begins to really look around: snails glow in the dark; colorful mushrooms are reminiscent of the grandparents' basement; interesting objects lie beneath the mud. A tumble down a hill provides an upside-down view of the world that prompts the kid to notice bugs, talk to a bird, splash in puddles, and watch the world shining through smooth stones. Filled with delight in this "magical do-nothing day," the youngster runs home and even sees mom in a new light as they enjoy hot chocolate together. Alemagna's striking illustrations, executed in gouache, oil, collage, and wax pencil, extend the text. Sheets of rain fall from a black sky into a forest of green shadows. In the early pages, the only brightness emanates from the protagonist, whose gender is never identified, a small speck in the orange coat and pointy hood amid looming trees. But the skies brighten and the kid appears larger as the wonder in new discoveries increases. This poignant read-aloud may motivate children to shut down their devices and interact with the world around them. VERDICT A strong choice for most picture book collections. Pair it with Dan Yaccarino's Doug Unplugged for group discussion.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Cambridge, MA - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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