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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-09
- Reviewer: Staff
As in previous collaborations like When You Were Small and Where You Came From, O’Leary and Morstad put forth a playful, imagination-first portrait of childhood, introducing a girl named Sadie who is equally at home in the expanses of her mind as she is in the outside world. Striking an irreverent tone from the first page (“This is Sadie. No, not that. That’s a box. Sadie is inside the box”), O’Leary follows her raven-haired heroine as she sets sail in the aforementioned cardboard box, spends the day with friends (“Some of them live on her street, and some live in the pages of books”), and inserts herself into the stories she reads. “She has been a boy raised by wolves,” writes O’Leary as Morstad shows Sadie and a small pack of wolves howling on the jungle floor. Throughout, the warm, understated writing and rich, mixed-media illustrations emphasize that Sadie can be anything or anyone she wants—a snail, the Mad Hatter, a fairy-tale hero—and that, by extension, every reader wields the very same power. Ages 3–7. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (May)
An inspiring young explorer
Author Sara O’Leary and illustrator Julie Morstad invite us into a day in the life of Sadie, an imaginative young girl who loves diving into stories. In the opening illustration, Sadie is hiding inside a box, her head barely peeking above the top, but, as she tells readers, she’s actually on a giant boat, crossing the ocean.
Sadie has learned to be quiet while engaging in her grand adventures, because “old people need a lot of sleep.” Her room is the type of inspiring, chaotic mess that can only come from a child exploring the robust and active world of the mind. She’s not only crossing the wide sea, still in her pajamas—she’s also a mermaid; a wolf-child, à la Mowgli; and the “hero in the world of fairy tales.” (Refreshingly, she isn’t the damsel in distress; she’s the seeker on the horse, armed with a bow and some arrows.) Morstad sets off Sadie’s fantasies with lush full-bleed spreads, where white space takes a back seat to color and drama.
Sadie also has wings; they’re just “very, very hard to see.” Maybe readers have them, too. “Have you checked?” we read. These chummy moments where the narrator breaks the fourth wall are engaging and enjoyable. In a story all about one child’s whimsy, both author and illustrator manage to keep things from getting too cloying, and these moments of direct address are part of that charm.
Sadie’s days are never long enough, and readers may feel the same way about this story: It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and every moment is a pleasure. And don’t forget to remove the book jacket to see the surprise waiting on the cover.
Here’s hoping for more of Sadie’s adventures in the future.