Quote of the Month

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




Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Art Of Ingenuity

Objectives vary from individual to individual.  They can be from second to second or over the course of decades.  Some goals are more easily reached than others.  There is a plan in place.  Enough time is available to complete said plan.  Other aims happen so quickly, instinct takes over.

Sometimes, initially, there is no objective, goal, or aim, but an opportunity presents itself.  This opportunity cannot be ignored.  It turns into a deep desire.  In The Thingity-Jig (Peachtree Publishing Company, April 1, 2021) written by Kathleen Doherty with illustrations by Kristyna Litten, a nighttime escapade reveals an eager yearning.  This leads to the construction of a trio of contraptions.

One night, under the light of a silvery
moon, all of Bear's friends were deep
asleep.

But Bear wasn't sleepy---he wanted to play. 

Bear left the woods for people town.  He explored until he found a Thingity-Jig. (People called it a sofa.)  He loved the way it responded to his every move.  He could not wait to tell his woodland friends.

He rushed back to them.  Rabbit, Fox, and Raccoon did not want to help him bring it to the woods.  They wanted to sleep.  Bear, being a wide-awake bear, knew he was on his own.  

Back in people town, Bear assessed the situation, and from items free for the taking, he built a unique vehicle.  This would carry the Thingity-Jig, but now he had another problem.  How would he get the Thingity-Jig on his mode of transportation?  A visit back to the woods resulted in the same response from his friends.

So, Bear assembled another one-of-a-kind gizmo.  At last, the Thingity-Jig was homeward bound.  You won't believe what happened!  Of course, his friends did not want to be bothered.  Another device was made.  Hooray!  As the sky lightened with a new day beginning, Rabbit, Fox, and Raccoon woke with a start at a loud thud.  Guess who loved the Thingity-Jig as much as Bear?  Guess who had to wait and wait and wait to play on the Thingity-Jig?  Oh, Bear.  Sweet dreams.


The word play created by author Kathleen Doherty is pure fun on every page.  There are loads of single action verbs and delightful, descriptive adjectives.  Alliteration is used to enhance the cadence.  Repetition of words and phrases tie moments together.  The conversational exchanges between Bear and his friends Rabbit, Fox, and Raccoon disclose their distinctive personalities.  Here is a passage.

"Wake up! Wake up! I found something
fun---a bouncy, springy Thingity-Jig!"

Rabbit opened one eye.
"Really?"

"This Thingity-Jig will be sit-on-it,
hop-on-it, jump-on-it fun . . .," said Bear.
"And I need help bringing it home."

"Not now, Bear." Fox yawned.
"We're sleeping."

"Wait till morning,"
grumbled Raccoon.

But Bear wasn't sleepy---he
wanted to play.  So he took
matters into his own paws.


(I am working with an F & G, but I have two copies arriving soon.)

When you open the dust jacket, you are greeted with Bear standing in a treasure trove found in an alley.  Here items of no value to others are gifts to an inventive mind.  On the front, do you see the many mice engaged in aerobic endeavors?  Notice the spider hanging from the windowsill.  It's a superb design choice to have the light from that window shine on Bear like a spotlight.  The background on the front and the back is matte finished.  All the other elements on the front and back are varnished, even the two little beetles on the back.

On the opening endpapers, Bear is running through his woods at night.  A crescent moon hangs in a starry sky.  Other than a few birds, all the other animals are tucked away for the night.  There are indications of snores coming from some of their homes.  This is a panoramic view of the woods, almost like a map.  The colors are a deep muted blue and cream.  On the closing endpapers, the setting is the same but . . . oh, my . . . everything else is different.  It is the light of a new day.  You will spend hours looking at this artwork.  Bear started something marvelous.

With a page turn, we are at the verso and title pages.  On these Bear is leaping through tree branches, bouncing off the e in The, and hanging from another tree branch.  This creature is all about play.

These illustrations by Kristyna Litten were

rendered in pencil, ink textures, and digital.

They shift in size to showcase the narrative and its pacing.  We move from a full-page picture to a spot image, to another full-page picture, a cluster of small visuals and then to a double-page illustration.  These alterations in size also reinforce the dynamic character of Bear.  Readers will enjoy pausing at each illustration to notice all the tiny elements in each scene.  Careful readers will notice the sky changing from the newness of night to the darkness of night, to the brightening of dawn, sunrise, and near noon.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a full-page picture.  We are looking at a sweeping perspective.  It is as if we are on top of a roof in people town.  The roof goes across the bottom of the page.  Above the roof are buildings of all shapes and sizes with lights glowing in some of the windows.  From the town, a hill rises.  On the hill are trees as the woodlands come into view.  About halfway up the hill is Bear peddling the Rolly-Rumpity.  A lamp on the front of this vehicle lights his path.  The moon is close to the hill.  Stars are sprinkled in the sky.  The hues of blue and purple are calming.  The red of the sofa draws our eyes to Bear.


This book, The Thingity-Jig written by Kathleen Doherty with illustrations by Kristyna Litten, is certain to have readers smiling from beginning to end and hours, if not days, later.  It is a joy to read silently.  It is read-aloud gold and a STEAM gem.  I highly recommend you place a copy on your personal and professional bookshelves. 

To learn more about Kathleen Doherty and Kristyna Litten and their other work, please follow the link attached to their name to access informative websites.  Kathleen Doherty has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Kristyna Litten has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  At the publisher's website there are interior pages guaranteed to make you smile, a teacher's guide and an interview with the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment