Thursday, April 10, 2008

David Small

Imogene's Antlers
by David Small
Recommended Age: 4-8

I was at a Hungarian-themed party, inspired by a musical performance depicting nine lads who were magically turned into stags. In keeping with this “stag” theme, someone brought along this adorable children’s book, which completely disarmed me from its first page and its matter-of-fact opening sentence: “On Thursday morning Imogene woke up and found that she had grown antlers.”

There was a chuckle on every delightfully illustrated page, and a belly-laugh at the end, as Imogene and the servants enjoy the antlers while her family wrings their hands in comical anguish. In a few brushstrokes, many characters come vividly to life: the snotty little brother, the hysterical mother, the daffy doctor, the grumpy schoolteacher, the flamboyant milliner who attempts to design a hat to cover Imogene’s antlers, and even the family pets.

Here is a side-splittingly funny yet good-natured story to charm small children and the adults who love them. I especially enjoyed the fact that it never attempts to explain the magic in Imogene’s life. It simply, innocently, accepts the weirdness that lives in the child’s land of make-believe.

EDIT: This Michigan-based artist-author has won two Caldecott Medals for illustrating children's books: The Library (1998) and So You Want to Be President (2001). He has illustrated books written by himself, his wife Sarah Stewart, Norton Juster, Russell Hoban, and others. Thanks for the info, Wiki!

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