Quote of the Month

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

Monday, January 8, 2018

In The Middle

Family dynamics are constantly shifting to accommodate the ebb and flow of the personalities of individual members.  No two family dynamics are the same.  With that being said, sometimes the middle child in more than one family struggles to be noticed.  It seems the majority of favorable attention is given to the oldest and youngest siblings.

Most children would rather not be invisible.  A little bit of love can make all the difference.  Bub (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, January 16, 2018) written and illustrated by Elizabeth Rose Stanton is about a little monster in the middle of an older sister and a new baby.

This is Bub.

His real name is Bob.

Unfortunately for Bob when writing his name on the first day of school, he didn't close up the o.  (It's surprising how a tiny error like that can have a lasting effect.)  Bub's family consists of Maw, Paw, his sister Bernice and The Baby.

In case you're wondering why the baby is called The Baby, it's because Maw and Paw still have not selected a name.  They shout and argue about names too much.  This loudness makes Bub cranky.  He knows they can be quiet because when Bernice is practicing her violin, they shush him.

The Baby demands constant consideration.  It is freely given by Maw and Paw regardless of Bub's presence.  One day, one day when Bub is already cranky, Bernice and The Baby say the wrong things to Bub.  This little middle monster makes a decision. 

A necessary change goes unnoticed for nearly an entire day.  When attention is finally given in the form of a written message, a reply arcs and loops through the air.  Love finds a way.

Straightforward and succinct sentences written by Elizabeth Rose Stanton appeal to readers of all ages.  The descriptions of the baby-naming campaign, the praise given to Bernice and affection showered on The Baby strike a collective chord in siblings' hearts.  When Elizabeth Rose Stanton introduces little bits of dialogue, we are endeared further to Bub.  Here is a passage.

And when Maw and Paw could
not agree, they could be extra LOUD.
This made Bub feel grumpy.

How about Bea?  (Bub)

One of the first things you notice when unfolding the dust jacket is the soft white canvas.  Elizabeth Rose Stanton uses white space masterfully here and all through the title.  It is an essential element on every page allowing her fine lines, delicate colors and pops of red to radiate a certain charm.  The significance of Bub holding the purple crayon will become apparent.  The same hue used in the title text covers the spine.  When our eyes move to the back, the left, Bub's family including the cat, greets readers with smiles and open arms.  (I am working with an F & G.)

On the opening and closing endpapers two colors appear; first pale green and then white.  They are reversed at the conclusion.  On the opening endpapers a small folded paper airplane is at rest in the lower right-hand corner.  An A+ mathematics paper for Bob is placed in the center of the left-hand side of the closing endpapers.  Bub stands amid crayons, papers, a pencil and his whistle beneath the text on the title page.

Rendered in pencil and watercolor the illustrations vary from single page pictures to two page images.  The attire of the characters and their facial expressions are comical and winsome.  That single tooth peeking out from each smile is grin-worthy.  What readers need to notice are the six portraits hanging on the wall in the living room.  From left to right are a space alien, Frankenstein, Henny and Peddles from Elizabeth's first two books, a monster family member and a one-eyed purple guy (The Purple People Eater?).  Their expressions change as the climate in the family changes.  You'll laugh out loud when the parents are shouting.

One of my many favorite illustrations is on a single page.  Paw is standing behind Maw.  Maw is holding The Baby.  Bernice is blowing Bub's whistle.  Her violin and its bow are on the floor next to her.  Bernice is blowing on the whistle so hard, the ribbons on her dress are falling off the fabric.  Hearts are coming out from the whistle.  The others are shouting BUB!!

This book, Bub written and illustrated by Elizabeth Rose Stanton, is for every child who feels invisible in their family.  It is also for those who have never felt lost as a family member.  It reminds them of the importance of each individual.  We need to be aware of each other exercising empathy.  This book will resonate with all of your readers.  I believe it will generate the best kind of discussions.

To learn more about Elizabeth Rose Stanton and her other work, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Elizabeth has a blog here.  You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.  To view interior illustrations please visit the publisher's website.  Elizabeth is interviewed about her work at Dani Duck Artist Obscure.

1 comment:

  1. Love reading all the visual details, and the story is one we all can relate to. Kids are going to love this book. I love it already!