The Red Book by Barbara Lehman

Summary: Kindergarten and Up: In this wordless mind trip for tots, Lehman develops a satisfying fantasy in a series of panels framed with thick white borders. The effect is of peering through portals, an experience shared by the characters as they independently stumble across enchanted red books that provide them with a videophone-like connection. Though wordless picture books often seem to be the province of fine artists indulging in high-concept braggadocio (as in Istvan Banyai's 1995 Zoom), Lehman's effort ensures child appeal with an unaffected drawing style and a simple, easy-to-follow story line about a friendship forged between a city girl and a faraway island boy. The message about the transporting power of story will moisten the eyes of many adult readers, but children will most appreciate the thought-provoking visuals, in which characters' actions influence the course of their own storybook narratives--likewise affecting the larger "red book," cleverly packaged to mimic the shape and color of its fictional counterpart. Ideal for fueling creative-writing exercises. Jennifer Mattson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Classroom Implications: This post-modern, book within a book, plays with perspective like Flotsam or Zoom. The Red Book deconstructs the common picture book motif, where the characters seem to affect and create the story as the pages turn. The wonderful teaching point this book carries is that character's actions influence the course of the story. This is an essential element of reading and writing to expose students to in the classroom. Kids in the upper grades can take advantage of this wordless text and use the pictures to create their own story.


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