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Virginia Wolf Hardcover – March 1, 2012

5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

* "In the literary bounty of books about bad moods and bad days, this one goes deeper than most, poignantly showing literal and metaphorical glimpses of real depression. 'One day my sister Virginia woke up feeling wolfish. She made wolf sounds and did strange things,' begins narrator Vanessa. Huddled in bed, only pointy ears showing, is a wolf. Virginia's unable to bear the bright-yellow gingham of Vanessa's dress or the sound of Vanessa brushing her own teeth. This is potent misery: 'The whole house sank. Up became down. Bright became dim.' Vanessa creeps into bed to comfort her sister, but what finally helps is painting. At the wolf's suggestion, Vanessa paints a whimsical, expanding world called 'Bloomsberry,' bursting with blossoms, birds and magic. Arsenault reproduces the earlier 'Up became down' spread but inverts its position and hue: Now objects waft upwards and the mood is buoyant. The wolf -- previously a black near-silhouette with snout and tail, wearing a dress -- morphs back into a girl. Wolf ears, silhouetted from behind, become a hair bow. Ink, pencil and paint deftly divide color from black-and-white as emotional symbolism. Lettering is carefully handwritten. Knowledge of Virginia Woolf and her painter-sister Vanessa Bell is unnecessary; this works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood or animal-transformation tale, while readers who know actual depression will find it handled with tenderly forceful aplomb. (Picture book. 5-10)" --Kirkus (starred review)

* "Drawing inspiration from Virginia Woolf and her sister, Maclear tells the story of two siblings who share a strong bond and creative spirit despite their dissimilar personalities. ... It is the delicacy of the mixed-media illustrations (ink, pencil, watercolor, gouache) that tames the feral Virginia and gives real strength to the story. Parents will enjoy sharing this book with their sometimes 'wolfish' children." --School Library Journal (starred review)

"...an ambitious story about girlish blues, sisterly differences and the healing power of art. ...Isabelle Arsenault, who won a Times Best Illustrated award last year for her work on 'Migrant,' by Maxine Trottier, imaginatively and deliciously depicts a child's inner world." --New York Times

About the Author

Kyo Maclear is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her first book for children, Spork, has received a number of honors, including a 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award nomination. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Isabelle Arsenault has illustrated several children's books, including Spork, My Letter to the World and Other Poems and Mr. Gaugin's Heart. She has received many awards for her work, including the Governor General's Award for Illustration. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 380L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554536499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554536498
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kyo Maclear is a children's author, novelist and essayist. She was born in London, England and moved to Toronto at the age of four with her father (a foreign correspondent and documentary filmmaker) and mother (a painter and art dealer).

Kyo is the author of several critically-acclaimed children's books including: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012), both illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; Mr. Flux (2013), illustrated by Matte Stephens; and Julia, Child (2014), illustrated by Julie Morstad. Her newest picture books are The Specific Ocean (2015) with Katty Maurey, and The Good Little Book (2015) with Marion Arbona.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A friend of mine brought this book to my attention and I'm so glad she did! It is so wonderfully illustrated and I hope to see it win many awards. The author and publisher were so smart to trust the illustrator to make the book so special. It's just beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover
The spectacular duo behind 2010's Spork has created another must-buy picture book, Virginia Wolf.

Loosely based on sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolf tells the tale of a little girl who tries everything she can to pull her sister out of the doldrums. Her gift is an imaginary world, Bloomsberry, painted on the walls, and it works to turn her sister from glum to glad.

This is a multi-layered book that will delight children and adults alike. The adorable characters, raw emotion, and contrasts will appeal to even the youngest child, and the parent reading it aloud will enjoy the references to Woolf's writing, the message about sibling relationships, and the marvelous use of language.

Isabelle Arsenault is a multi-award winning illustrator whose mixed media illustrations add an extra layer to Kyo Maclear's marvelous words. Her use of black and for the ill-tempered wolfish girl and her world contrasts well against the colors of the world when Virginia is happy again. Her art is as much a tribute to the talent of Vanessa Bell as Maclear's stunning language is a tribute to Virginia Woolf.

Highly recommended for any family with a child who has tantrums.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a lovely story with lovely illustrations. I placed it on my wish-list with my 2.5-year-old daughter in mind. She really liked it, but her brother was the one who fell in love with the book. He would go to bed with it under his pillow. The story of moodiness, of a sibling's love and support during the darkest hours, and of taking action to feel better, really spoke to him. I'm sure the illustrations also captured his interest; they are simply beautiful. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I absolutely adored Kyo Maclear's Virgina Wolf. Illustrated by the extremely talented Isabelle Arsenault, this is the story of sisters Virginia and Vanessa as battle Virginia's sadness and anger with imagination and colorful art.

I love that this book has the potential to inspire and guide not only the grumpiest, most wolfish child, but also adults who've also fallen prey to their wolfish tendencies. No matter your age, Vanessa's determination and the beautiful illustrations within Virginia Wolf's pages has the power to inspire and slowly tame the wolf within.

Key Words and Ideas:
Empathy
Learning to deal with and handle emotion
Using art as an emotional outlet
Imagination
Compassion
Sisters
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Format: Hardcover
On my blog "Teaching My Baby to Read", I wrote about wanting to find a book that introduced my children to the real Virginia Woolf. I could only find one book out there that met this task, but luckily it was a good one.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear is something that both my 2 year old and my 7 year old have enjoyed. The illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault are absolutely charming, and the hand lettering is done in D'nealian, which is the handwriting program my son Bruce uses at school.

Virginia Wolf tells the story of two sisters named Virginia and Vanessa. One day, Virginia wakes up in a really sour mood and turns into a wolf. Vanessa spends the rest of the book trying to help her sister choose to feel better. At one point, Bloomsberry is mentioned. When we finally see Virginia's face without the wolf head, she does indeed have a very distinctive looking nose.

This book is similar in merit to When Sophie Gets Angry because it helps children understand "big emotions" and think about socially appropriate ways to handle them. I'm not sure how much either of my kids learned about the real Virginia Woolf, but they are at least going to be familiar with her name and know that sometimes she suffered from really dark moods.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful graphic novel for the over 10s. It's sisters, Virginia and Vanessa, are based on the famous Bell sisters, one of them eventually went on to marry Leonard Woolf. Many children wouldn't understand this concept. For those of us who do, we will associate the ferociously bad mood of Virginia in the book with madness. Maclear has only loosely based this book on the reality, so for some readers this depiction trivialises madness or severe depression. I think this is a pity. Maclear's version opens up the idea of depression, it's affects on the person and everyone around them and the fact it isn't a forever condition.

The illustrations are also very beautiful and mirror the story. Some might say the art alone makes it worth buying. I'd say it delivers everything it implies. Just remember that this is not going to be an accurate biography. It is, after all, targeted at children and teenagers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this award winning book when I was looking for another book , that used the same illustrator, to give as a gift. The story of a little girl, who is feeling wolfish, as told by her sister who is trying to cheer her, is a magical story that progresses with the sister painting beautiful pictures to transform the wolfish sister. The illustrations and writing are exceptional. I will not give this book away, but save it to read to all the little ones in my family.
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