by Peter H. Reynolds
Interests: art, artists, school, teachers
Candlewick Press: 2003
Also by this author: Ish
Vashti can’t draw, at least that’s what she thinks, but her teacher tells her to “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” Vashti makes a simple dot, and the teacher says “Now sign it.” The next day Vashti is astonished to see her dot framed and hanging on the wall. “I can make a better dot than that,” she thinks, and as she paints every possible kind of dot, in all colours and sizes, an artist is born. She’s a great success at the school art show, and a small boy tells Vashti he wishes he could draw like her. He can’t even draw a straight line, he says, and demonstrates. Vashti looks at his crooked line and says, “Please… sign it.”
This simple story holds a powerful message that really speaks to children aged 5 or 6 or so. (My daughter came home from school at about age 5 just bursting to tell me about this book, and recited it practically verbatim.) After the preschool years of bravado come the school years of self-doubt and fear of failure, and this book about artistic empowerment can do great things to counteract this.
Seeing Vashti move from frustration to joyful inspiration will delight readers, and the ending in which she generously passes the torch on to a younger boy is simply perfect.
A book about art, but more about “making your mark” in the world. Highly recommended.