With a simple, witty story and free-spirited illustrations, Peter H. Reynolds entices even the stubbornly uncreative among us to make a mark -- and follow where it takes us.
Her teacher smiled. "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." Art class is over, but Vashti is sitting glued to her chair in front of a blank piece of paper. The words of her teacher are a gentle invitation to express herself. But Vashti can't draw - she's no artist. To prove her point, Vashti jabs at a blank sheet of paper to make an unremarkable and angry mark. "There!" she says. That one little dot marks the beginning of Vashti's journey of surprise and self-discovery. That special moment is the core of Peter H. Reynolds's delicate fable about the creative spirit in all of us.
In this engaging, inspiring tale, Reynolds (illustrator of the Judy Moody series) demonstrates the power of a little encouragement. Minimal narrative and art elucidate the plight of Vashti, who sulks next to her blank paper at the end of art class: "I just can't draw!" The art teacher sagely responds, "Just make a mark and see where it takes you." The scowling girl takes a marker and jabs at her paper, making a minuscule dot. The teacher "pushed the paper toward Vashti and quietly said, Now sign it.' " When Vashti returns the following week, her signed picture hangs in a gilded frame over her art teacher's desk, which inspires the budding painter to greater feats. A later spread, guaranteed to evoke smiles, reveals an extensive display of Vashti's dot paintings (and even a similarly themed sculpture) at the school art show, where a boy praises her for being "a really great artist." When he insists that he can't draw, she emulates her art teacher's example. Rendered in watercolor, ink and tea, Reynolds's spare, wispy illustrations exude a fresh, childlike quality pleasingly in sync with his hand-lettered text. Offering a rare balance of subtlety and hyperbole, this small-format volume should give reticent young artists a boost of confidence-and encourage spontaneity in their artistic expression. Reynolds pulls off exactly what his young heroine does, creating an impressive work from deceptively simple beginnings. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2003 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
This simple, circular story is the answer to every child who ever said, "I can't draw." Follow up by giving all students a piece of paper with their very own dot.
Copyright 2004 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.