Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, September 7, 2015

This Reader. (she say "rock on")

Life has a way of throwing us monumental change within seconds and without notice.  A single act by another or us with or without a response can alter our immediate lives.  It can expand to include others, even the world at large.

Some things done are better left without any acknowledgement at all.  Others elicit a reaction triggered by emotion or logic.  A little more than one year ago we were introduced to a boy and his best friend, a woolly mammoth, in this Orq. (he cave boy.)  Readers could not help but feel joyful by the love the two have for each other.  I am happy to announce the return of the duo in this ORQ. (he say "ugh!") (Boyds Mills Press, an imprint of Highlights, September 8, 2015) written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols.  Orq and Woma are challenged repeatedly by two new characters.

This Orq.
He cave boy.
Wear skins.
No shoes.
Sometimes say ...

The cave boy and his woolly mammoth companion enjoy every single day having as much fun as they can.  One of their favorite things to do is to build architectural shapes and forts out of turtles, stacking them like bricks.  We are made aware, nevertheless, of the hardships of dwelling in a cave.  It's chilly, dark and the food is uncooked.

As if this is not enough, Dorq, a bigger, stronger and hairier boy, and his cave bear cohort, Caba, relish making life miserable for Orq and Woma.


Mother's suggestion to ignore them is simply unreasonable.  They're like shadows, spoiling all those activities Orq and Woma delight in doing, fishing, finding and building.

The single advantage the pals have is speed.  They can and do outrun the bullies.  Until ...one day on a hunting expedition a

tremendous turtle

turns out to be trouble.  Dorq and Caba have been practicing their chasing.

It looks as though the terrible twosome have the upper hand.  An egg escalates the encounter.  Anger born out of love and two rocks reverse the course of events.  Heroes, like change, can be created in the blink of an eye.  Everyone wins...well, almost everyone.

As he did in the first title, David Elliott gives readers phrases inviting their participation.  The shortened sentences are playful, humorous and full of rhythm.  The technique of designing events in clusters of three works extremely well; each time leading to a pause or a shift in the narrative.  Elliott demonstrates insight into the thinking of his expected readers with word choices and character interactions.  Here is a sample passage.

But cave life tough.
Cold cave.
Dark night.
Raw bison.
And ...

Spanning from left to right we are greeted with a two-page spread across the matching dust jacket and book case.  Clearly Woma and Orq are distressed as the dreadful duo, Dorq and Caba, laugh in the background.  The three red-tufted blue birds seen gathered around the ISBN on the first title have returned, joined by jazzy-shelled turtles.  A matte-finish on these as well as the interior pages provides a pleasing tactile experience for readers.

The identical opening and closing endpapers feature a pattern of turtles, snakes, a woolly mammoth puppet and a single egg. With a page turn another double-page picture greets readers.  Everyone will grin at the scene showcasing the title.  A smiling Woma is running toward a singing Orq bathing in a pond joined by the three birds, one floating on its back in the water.  Orq's grass clothing and blue-striped underwear are hanging on a twig.

The next large image on the right holds the publication information plus The Turtle Challenge.  Readers are asked to count the number of turtles Lori Nichols has placed in this title.  Woma, spraying water from his trunk, is now bathing in the pond as Orq struggles to get dressed.  The first lines of the story appear on the right.

Rendered in

#4 pencil on Strathmore drawing paper and colorized digitally

the illustrations vary in size from two-page to single page and smaller visuals grouped on one page to extend and enhance the pacing of the story.  The facial features on all the characters depict the emotional status of each scene perfectly.  Nichols' lines, fine or large, convey setting, mood and motion, taking readers into the moment.

One of my favorite images is the second double-page picture in the story.  On the left Woma is sitting surrounded by turtles.  He holds one in his arms ready to hand it to Orq, who is being held aloft in his trunk.  Orq and Woma have made an arch of smiling turtles on the right.  We are reminded of the shared affection of these two friends.

This ORQ. (he say "ugh!") written by David Elliott with illustrations by Lori Nichols is a heartfelt and witty look at friendship and those who would strive to take away another's joy.  The BIG surprise during the final confrontation with the mean-spirited Dorq and Caba will have everyone cheering.  The change of words in the key phrase and Nichols' final illustration will fill readers with warmth.  This book.  This book great.  Share this book. Happy reader. Third title September 2016.

To discover more about David Elliott and Lori Nichols please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  John Schumacher, blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. and the new Scholastic Ambassador of School Libraries, shared a vine of this title. Enjoy.