and hides an elephant in a teacup.What can your pen do?Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything Read more...
and hides an elephant in a teacup.What can your pen do?Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-12
- Reviewer: Staff
A graceful boy with a fedora and soft curls talks about the power of making art, as finely detailed black-and-white images surround him, like a sketchbook brought to life. Deep in thought, the boy compares himself to people who are rich or famous. “Sometimes I feel small,” he confesses. “But then I remember I have my pen.” Instead of imagining fortune or celebrity, he pays homage to wisdom and strength, drawing a farmer in overalls who towers over him like a stone monument (and who bears a strong resemblance to the author’s late father, Walter Dean Myers). “My pen,” he says, “makes giants of old men who have seen better days.” His pen creates adventure (“My pen sails to Africa in a newspaper boat”) but carries grave concern, too (“My pen worries about all the wars in the world”). Throughout the book, faces—young and old, with dark skin and light skin, with dreadlocks and pigtails—assure readers that this is a book meant for them, as are the freedom, power, and unlimited possibilities that drawing offers: “Let those worlds inside your pen out!” Ages 3–5. (Mar.)
Mightier than the sword
A simple pen can do a lot. Christopher Myers shows us just that in his new book, a tribute to the imagination of children and the immense power of creativity.
A young boy sets the tone in the opening pages: He says that there are rich and famous people in the world who sometimes make him feel “small.” When their words are plastered everywhere, he feels insignificant, momentarily forgetting that he has his own voice: his pen. We know we’re in for the honest and vulnerable musings of a child.
On the very next spread, the boy notes, “My pen makes giants of old men who have seen better days.” Here is a drawing of a man who looks remarkably like Walter Dean Myers, the author’s father, a legend in children’s literature who passed away last year. If, like me, you’re still trying to get used to his absence, this spread will take your breath away.
The boy goes on to show where his sketchbook can take him: He can tap-dance on the sky, hide elephants in teacups and wear “satellite sneakers with computer laces.” His pen might worry about wars, but it exudes love. It might be simple, but it’s capable of grand adventures. It can even bolster the boy’s identity. “It draws me a new face every morning,” he writes.
Myers’ graceful pen-and-ink drawings are eloquent and expressive. The absence of color is a smart choice; it’s as if Myers leaves abundant room for young readers to fill in his or her own spaces.
This is a lively tribute to the wonders of expression.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.