Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words

by Ruth Rocha (Author) Madalena Matoso (Illustrator)

Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

A child who has not yet learned how to read looks out at the world and sees language as such a child would: as lines and squiggles that don't exactly make pictures but don't seem to make anything else either. Then, when the child starts to go to school and begins to learn his letters, his way of seeing begins to change.

Ruth Rocha is Brazil's most popular children's book author. Her first book was published in 1976. She has more than 130 published titles and has been translated into over twenty-five languages. Madalena Matoso studied Communication Design at Lisbon College of Fine Arts and has a graduate degree from the Fine Arts Faculty in Barcelona. In 1999, she and three friends created Planeta Tangerina.

Kirkus Reviews

Matoso’s striking, poster like illustrations use a limited palette of, mostly, red, pink, blue, black, and olive, allowing figures and patterns to occasionally merge with negative space, visually reinforcing the mental gymnastics involved in deciphering letters, her awareness of environmental print as keen as Pedro’s. This will have many children looking for meaning all around them. (Picture book. 3-6).

Copyright 2016 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

A boy named Pedro gradually learns how to read, gaining a new understanding of once-indecipherable images on street signs and buildings. Matoso's blocky graphics underscore themes of sight and learning on multiple fronts: the palette (vermilion, blue, and pea-soup green) echoes the RGB color model, and the illegible scribbles Pedro sees on milk cartons, buses, and elsewhere slowly shift into recognizable characters after he learns about letters like A and D at school. In so doing, Matoso lets readers share in Pedro's disorientation, perhaps never more than when Pedro's father tells him that "through your letters you're starting to understand more of what you see." The text of the scene is set against a dizzying backdrop of overlapping red and green stripes; taking a moment to think about what they are seeing (as Pedro often does), readers will realize it's a close-up of Pedro's father's sweater. It's a smart, thoughtful chronicle of learning in action, and it would pair well with Sergio's Ruzzier's recent This Is Not a Picture Book! for discussions about how literacy transforms the unfamiliar into the known. Ages 3-6. (Nov.)

Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Young Pedro wonders about the lines and squiggles that he sees on signs, billboards, and stores. What do they mean? He doesn't understand until he starts school, where he learns the letter A and suddenly sees the letter everywhere! The same happens with the letter D. Are all the books, signs, and packages being secretly painted with the letters Pedro studies? Nope! As his father says, "Through your letters you're starting to understand more of what you see." Soon Pedro recognizes the words all around him, finding joy in his ability to read. High contrast between shapes and colors in a slightly muted palette of mostly red, blue, green, black, and white illustrate this charming story, translated from Portuguese, about a child's excitement at learning to decipher the words that surround him. Blocky, expressionistic pictures capture the bustle of a city, while the use of horizontal and vertical lines encourages the concentration and close observation young ones need to master letters and numbers. The interplay between Pedro's newfound letter knowledge and his blossoming understanding of lines and squiggles around his city makes for a fun story that may encourage young readers to take notice of the letters in their lives. VERDICT An engaging, creative look at literacy that's great for prereaders.—Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, St. Paul Public Library

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choice Selection for 2017

A 2017 USBBY Outstanding International Book

"A wonderful celebration of the way words work, and a reminder than reading is as much as about visual literacy as it is about text literacy."—Kids' Book Review
Ruth Rocha
Ruth Rocha is a Brazilian children's book writer, and one of the leading exponents of the new wave of Brazilian children's literature. She debuted in the literary field in 1967, writing articles for several magazines on education. In 1976, she published her first book entitled Palavras Muitas Palavras. Her current work has more than 130 published titles, 500 editions and translations to over 25 languages; also, it has sold about 17.5 million copies in Brazil and 2.5 million copies overseas.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
November 20, 2016

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