It’s Not Very ­Complicated

­Reycraft. Nov. 2020. 40p. retold by ­. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781478870319; pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781478870326.
Gr 1-3–In a picture book that counts on readers to fill in the emotional blanks, Samuel and his friend Louise (both white children) spend their time creating fantastic forests in crayon, ostensibly for the not very lovely space between their houses. Louise asks Samuel what’s in his head, and when Samuel looks inside his imagination, he finds a variety of beautiful and scary things, which, when he returns, are represented by the drawings on his page. However, Louise is gone. Checking his heart, he finds that Louise now lives there, permanently. The metaphorical story is aimed at older readers than the general picture book audience. Children will struggle with reality versus the fantasy portion of this book, and some of those pages are quite frightening. No matter how poetic, Louise’s disappearance will worry some. The book may serve as a springboard for conversation with older students for discussing their inner lives as well as the need for talking about feelings, particularly of loss. The art is created with blocky, cold shapes that somehow convey grief and sorrow.
VERDICT A good mentor text for older students, this will need one-on-one sharing for younger readers.

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