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A Few Blocks

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  189 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Ferdie doesn’t want to go to school, but go to school he must, and fortunately his imaginative older sister Viola paves the way. First she urges him to put on his rocket blaster boots, which enable him to leave the house. When he stalls again she convinces him to take command of a ship in search of buried treasure, and at the next meltdown, she tells him that as a knight, ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Groundwood Books
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Thanks to Robin for pointing this book out to me! The artist uses an unusual combination of delicate copperplate etchings and paper sculpture. A little boy doesn't want to go to school, and his sister cajoles him through the few city blocks with imaginary quests. The paper cuttings take the shape of their imagined worlds (a dragon, a rocket ship) while the etchings on the paper still show the cityscape. It's a great use of art to represent the parallel real/imagined worlds, and I haven't seen an ...more
The illustrations are wonderfully inventive and marvelously original. I spent a lot of time looking and looking at how Young used the "real life" details to create the components of their imaginary reminds me in that respect of Shadow by Lee. However, I felt the story was a little weak on rationale. WHY doesn't he want to go to school, WHY is it the big sister's (and not the parent's) responsibility to cajole him along, WHY does this resourceful sister suddenly poop out, WHY don't the ...more
Dec 02, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it
I can't decide if I like this or A Few Bites better. They both have interesting climaxes. Imo, this one is a weaker start, maybe just because I can't sympathize with Ferdie's stalling once they're out the door, whereas I (am embarrased to admit that) know a fussy eater....

I do love books brought into the US from other countries, as they do reflect a different perspective. For example: Here, would an only-slightly-bigger sister have so much responsibility?
Amy Forrester
Oct 16, 2012 Amy Forrester rated it it was amazing
It’s time for Ferdie and his sister Viola to walk to school, but Ferdie doesn’t want to go, “Not now. Maybe never.” He has lots of things to do at home, pictures to draw and towers to build. But Viola knows just what to do. She holds out Ferdie’s coat and tells him it’s a superfast cape! If he puts on his rocket-blaster boots they’ll get to school in no time. Off they blast, flying over buildings and streets until Ferdie runs out of rocket fuel. He doesn’t want to go to school, “Not now. Maybe n ...more
Victoria Whipple
Jun 19, 2012 Victoria Whipple rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, family
When I saw the cover of this book, the illustrations of the children reminded me of one of my favorite books from my childhood "A Hole is to Dig" by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak so I had to pick it up. Little Ferdie didn't want to go to school, he had too much playing to do. So his big sister Viola had to coax him to get dressed and walk the few blocks to school. She used the magical power of imagination to get him going, and to keep him going all the way. The ink and watercolor ...more
Michelle McBeth
It is time to go to school, but Ferdie does not want to go. So his sister helps motivate him by entering the world of imagination and inviting Ferdie along. When he gets tired and sits down again on the way, she makes up a new make believe scenario each time until they make it to school.

I very much enjoyed Young's, A Few Bites in which the sister encourages her brother to eat his lunch. But this story lacked the good plot flow and I felt dragged down by Ferdie's attitude. I felt like he was bein
Skye Kilaen
Nov 29, 2016 Skye Kilaen rated it really liked it
My son is an only child, so all the coaxing-of-child-to-do-something around here is done by adults. In this book, an older sibling is stuck with the coaxing. Viola has to get Ferdie, her younger brother, to walk to school. He doesn't want to. Her response is far more positive and creative than I might be in that situation, and as a result both children have much more fun... until Viola runs out of steam and needs a little help herself. The story is full of imagination, but what really stands out ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Tasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
It was time for school, but Ferdie did not want to go to school. He wasn’t done playing with his cars, his blocks, or his drawing. In fact, he was not sure he ever wanted to go to school again. But Viola held up his coat, called it his cape and invited him to blast off with his rocket-blaster boots. They fought evil until Ferdie’s boots ran out of fuel. Ferdie sat down and once again announced that he wasn’t going to school, maybe not ever. Viola discovered a leaf in the gutter and invited Ferdi ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Asho rated it really liked it
I picked up this book because it was on the "Featured Picture Books" shelf at the library and I figured "blocks" meant building blocks and therefore the book might be baby-friendly. Nope! "Blocks" in this case are city blocks. I checked it out anyway, though, because I wanted to get a better look at the illustrations.
The illustrations in this book are great. They are delicate and elaborate and have a distinctly "foreign" feel. The illustrations reminded me of a Japanese graphic novel. I love how
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 21, 2011 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Even if I’d not read the publishing information or the information about the author, one look at this book would have told me that this book was not made here in America; the book has an air of foreign exoticism that I like.

A boy and his sister are preparing to go to school, but the boy does not want to go. The sister encourages her brother by pretending with him that they are superheroes and pirates and a knight and princess. When, at the end of the road, the sister begins to falter, her brothe
Alicia Scully
Sep 09, 2012 Alicia Scully rated it really liked it
Ferdie doesn't want to go to school at all and he dreads his sister Viola telling him to go. He vows to stay put and never move and Viola has to tell him that he must do extravagant things like save a princess and search for buried treasure to get him to move. There's only a few blocks to get to school and the two siblings will have to use their imaginations to get through it.

The illustrations are amazing. The real world is in blacks and gray blues while those in their imaginations are in vibra
It's time to go to school but Viola's little brother Ferdie does not want to go. But when Viola finds Ferdie's super fast cape he can't help himself. He flies over the tallest buildings, knocking out evil as they go. When his feet hit the ground he once again refuses to go to school. Viola notices a ship is leaving to find buried treasure. Well, of course Ferdie wants to find treasure. Off he goes!

So the story continues until all of a sudden, after being rescued from a fire-breathing dragon, Vio
Oct 16, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: ncbla, picture-book
When Ferdie is reluctant to go to school, his older sister Viola knows just how to handle him. Clearly, this has happened before, and she cleverly turns his jacket into a cape, a leaf into a ship, cardboard into a shield on the way to school. Just when they've almost made it to the school doors, she needs a nudge of her own. The 3-D paper sculpture illustrations of the children's fantastic imaginationary adventures are incredibly intricate and colorful and provide vivid contrast with the simple ...more
Gwen the Librarian
Sep 12, 2011 Gwen the Librarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
I really like this story of siblings helping each other. Ferdie doesn't want to go to school, but his big sister knows how to get him moving...she stokes his imagination all the way, not without a few hiccups, until finally, it is Ferdie's turn to help Viola find inspiration. The illustrations are old-fashioned, reminiscent of Charlotte Zolotow, black and white until inspiration strikes, and then all the colors of the rainbow.
Apr 21, 2016 Mindy rated it it was amazing
G and I both agreed almost immediately that the sister and brother duo in this book reflected her and her younger brother so clearly it was as if this story were written about them. Feeling as if you "know" the characters in a book is a wonderful feeling and when those characters are reminiscent of someone beloved, it's even more precious. A Few Blocks has immediately earned a special place in my heart. The story is fun and familiar and the illustrations are so simplistically sweet.
Dec 06, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Gorgeous watercolor illustrations and a stark white layout combine to create an imaginary landscape that matches the yarn sister spins to get brother to leave for school. School is just a few blocks away. She starts him off by holding up his jacket and boots and calling them his "superfast cape and rocket-blaster boots". And that begins an imaginary adventure shown in planes of color, layered and dream-like.
Jan 21, 2012 Dee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. A great book about the power of a good imagination. I loved the illustrations. Simple and then complex, black and white and then very colorful. My friend Gabby said she wanted to have a baby just so she could read this book to her kid. She would give it seven stars. She even wrote down the website so Cybele be watching for her if you read this. I told her just go out and buy it.
Gorgeous, gorgeous art pulls up the slight plot. Ferdie doesn't want to go to school, but big sister Viola convinces him to walk the few blocks by making it into an adventure. I adored the art and how it changed between real world and what was imagined, and I was glad to see both big sister and little brother take on the solution to the problem rather than have a parent do it.
Feb 02, 2012 Maria rated it it was ok
While the illustrations are beautiful, original and imaginative, that does not rescue the poor plot. The only reason I finished the picture book was to look at the illustrations. The story gets off to a good start but gets too repetitive. Example: If "Goldilocks and the three bears" was "Goldilocks and the seven bears"... too many beds and too much porridge...
Dec 30, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
When I hear the title of this book, I think of building blocks. Don’t you? But it’s actually referring to the few city blocks that Ferdie and his older sister Viola have to walk on their way to school.

The illustrations in A Few Blocks are lush pastels, complex drawings of Ferdie’s imaginary adventures, within the cut-out shapes of every day. Very clever and should appeal to ages 4-8.
Kelsey Bates
Jun 10, 2013 Kelsey Bates rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture_book
A little boy does not want to go to school, so his sister convinces him to walk the few blocks by using his imagination as they journey on a pirate ship and other adventures. The illustrations are beautiful: their everyday life is black and white but their imagination is in beautiful hues of colors that still show the everyday background as they walk to school.
Sep 14, 2011 Shelli rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Cute little story with sweet simple pictures about a older sister, Viola, and her younger brother Ferdie. Ferdie has more important things to do then attend school that day. His model cars need washed and toy towers need constructed, he might never be able to go. Viola has to come up with creative ways to encourage her brother to go to school. Never have a few block walk been more adventurous!
Sam Bloom
Aug 31, 2011 Sam Bloom rated it liked it
The visuals in this story are pretty amazing, but I thought the relationship between the brother and sister was pretty unbelievable. Seriously, the big sister had skills most parents don't even have in terms of redirecting a difficult/reticent child. Hmmm.
Andd Becker
Feb 27, 2013 Andd Becker rated it it was amazing
With determination, two siblings alternately call forth imagination. The author/illustrator engagingly allows imagination to soar through splendid 3-D paper sculptures.
The book is a charmer for moms, teachers, and children. Read it and enjoy!
Oct 14, 2011 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture_books
A sweet story of a very patient sister trying to coax her little brother to school...they use their imaginations and a fantasy world unfolds for just "a few blocks". The illustrations are amazing...they really make the book!
Ferdinand doesn't want to go to school, so his older sister, Viola uses imaginative play to coax him. I enjoyed the sweet relationship between the siblings, but the story fell apart for me at the end. Young artists will enjoy the fanciful illustrations, though.
Jul 29, 2013 Savannah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, childrens
I enjoyed this story. It reminded me of my four year old and I know he'd enjoy this one too. Also reminded me of my childhood when I had to walk to school. Loved the adventures they went on and how they helped one another out.
Jan 31, 2012 Ginny rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books, 2012
I like how reality is black and white, but fantasy is is FULL TECHNICOLOR! lol But seriously, this was cute.
Jan 15, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it
Absolutely wonderful illustrations. A fantastic book for my classroom's imagination unit - the illustrations are so imaginative, clever, and creative...very light and subtle, though.
Aug 25, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
When I hover over the little star for two stars, "It was ok" pops up. And that's exactly what this book was. OK. Not amazing, not disappointing, just fine.
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Cybèle Young is an award-winning paper sculpture artist as well as an author and illustrator of children's books.
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