David Michael Slater's sixteen picture books include Cheese Louise (Walrus Books, 1999), The Ring Bear (Flashlight, 2004), Jacques & Spock (Clarion, 2004), and Flour Girl (Magic Wagon, 2007). The Bored Book (Simply Read Books, 2009) was reviewed positively in the New York Times. David's collection of short fiction for adults, The Book of Letters (Evermore Books, 2010), includes "The Last Lottery," which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His ongoing YA series, Sacred Books (Blooming Tree Books, 2008-present), is being developed for film by producer Kevin Bannerman (Lion King/Curious George) and screenwriter Karen Janzsen (Dolphin Tale). David lives in Portland, Oregon.
*A nearly wordless picture book presents the "I can read"
A small boy with a determined, mischievous expression enters a library in the company of his mother. The look on the boy's face, perfectly rendered by Kolar (as are all the expressions), alarms the library books, and they run for their lives. The boy captures a blue-bound book and begins manhandling it as he would any toy, in the process ripping and creasing the pages. The other books look on, horrified. The boy's mother (who, unsettlingly, seems to care not a whit that the boy has mistreated a book) comes to get him. He tosses the book to the floor as he leaves. The other books lovingly glue and tape the battered book back together. A new day, and--horrors!--the boy returns. Again, the books scatter. But then the blue-bound book sees the boy's forlorn expression and suddenly understands. The book leaps from its safe perch to the boy, the boy opens the book, and it is here that the four words of text make their powerful statement--"Once upon a time." For the boy has learned to read, and now books are cherished and library manners learned.
Presented as a grand adventure, the moment when a child first learns to read is powerfully rendered in this well-made story. -Kirkus Reviews, *starred review
Slater's (The Bored Book) wordless story seems headed
toward a lesson about mistreating library books, but the lesson
turns out to be one of surprising compassion. The book abuser is a
young library visitor with a mop of black hair who grabs a blue
book while the others flee (all of the books have expressive faces
and sticklike appendages). A question mark above the boy's head as
he opens the book signals his non-reader status. Instead, he holds
it upside down, rips it, tosses it, and folds the pages,
accompanied by anguished looks from the book itself. On a return
visit, the book's efforts to avoid the boy are futile, and he
strikes again. But then something wonderful happens: the boy learns
to read, and he and the book are reconciled. Kolar's (Stomp,
Stomp!) digitally made figures are crisp and flat, and the
expressions on the books' faces do their comic work effectively.
Library champions don't usually tolerate the ill-treatment of
books, but sometimes, Slater implies, what looks like bad behavior
is just boundless eagerness.