Santa Maria Sun / School Scene
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 15
What Kids Are ReadingThe End
by David LaRochelle
illustrated by Richard Egielski
recommended for readers 4 to 8 years old
Summer’s official start—as an actual season, not just the school’s-out-post-Memorial-Day dreaminess—may not be the obvious time to pick up a book about an ending, but the backward-told tale makes for a great read on these long, long afternoons and evenings. Starting at the conclusion, like some sort of fantastical Memento (but, you know, for kids), David LaRochelle’s take on classic fairy tales proclaims, “And they all lived happily ever after.” While progressing through the book, readers regress through the story, finding out exactly why this ever after is such a happy one. Inscrutable actions (the royal couple falling in love because she dumped a bowl of lemonade on his head, for example) are revealed to have entirely reasonable causes with a flip of the page. Actually, “entirely reasonable” may be a bit strong of a phrase, since some of the scenarios involve such delightfully wacky players as a temper-tantrum-throwing giant, an enormous tomato, and a dragon sent into hysterics at the sight of dozens upon dozens of rabbits.
Richard Egielski’s colorful illustrations evoke classic literature and fables (the big-headed giants and the scowling serving ware are reminiscent of Sir John Tenniel’s Wonderland work) while managing to be original and fresh. A Cupid sort of fellow rides a flying blue pig, for instance, and while his heart-lobbing efforts are ultimately revealed to be the start of this adventure at the end of the book, he’s never explicitly mentioned in the text. There are also some subtle details; sharp-eyed readers may notice, on multiple reads, that all four suits from a deck of cards are represented in various characters and scenes.
The End, of course, concludes with a title page. The unusual narrative device employed here can prompt even little readers and listeners to think about time in a new way. Consider this: Despite the golden summer evenings, the days are on their way to getting shorter again. How backward is that?
“What Kids are Reading” is a regular feature in the Sun, highlighting children’s books available for young readers in Santa Maria. This week’s recommendation was made by Executive Editor Ryan Miller.