A frustrated grade school artist, Vashti sits slumped over her blank piece of paper at the end of art class. "I just CAN'T draw!" she tells her teacher. Her teacher first uses wit, then subtle yet clever encouragement to inspire her student to go beyond her insecurities and become, in the words of a younger boy who "cant" draw either, "a really great artist."
Peter H. Reynolds crafts a quiet, pleasing story in The Dot--one that will strike a chord with children who have outgrown the self-assurance of kindergarten and begun to doubt their own greatness. His marvelous watercolor, ink, and, yes, tea illustrations are appealing in a Quentin Blakey way, especially as Vashti begins to go wild with her dots. The delightfully open-ended conclusion will have readers of all ages contemplating how they can make their own mark in the world. Highly recommended. (Ages 5 to 9) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 4-"Just make a mark and see where it takes you." This sage advice, offered by her intuitive, intelligent teacher, sets our young heroine on a journey of self-expression, artistic experimentation, and success. First pictured as being enveloped by a blue-and-gray miasma of discouragement and dejection, Vashti seems beaten by the blank paper before her. It is her defeatist declaration, "I just CAN'T draw," that evokes her teacher's sensitive suggestion. Once the child takes that very first stab at art, winningly and economically dramatized by Reynolds's fluid pen-and-ink, watercolor, and tea image of Vashti swooping down upon that vacant paper in a burst of red-orange energy, there's no stopping her. Honoring effort and overcoming convention are the themes here. Everything about this little gem, from its unusual trim size to the author's hand-lettered text, from the dot-shaped cocoons of carefully chosen color that embrace each vignette of Vashti to her inventive negative-space masterpiece, speaks to them. Best of all, with her accomplishment comes an invaluable bonus: the ability and the willingness to encourage and embolden others. With art that seems perfectly suited to the mood and the message of the text, Reynolds inspires with a gentle and generous mantra: "Just make a mark."-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Greenwich, CT
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