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Monthly Book Club > June 2017 - Madlenka

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message 1: by Manybooks, Active moderator (new)

Manybooks | 223 comments Mod
In June, we will be reading and discussing Peter Sis' Madlenka (the first book, not the sequels). Please join us,.

No rules, only that people should be kind and respectful (if you want to use spoiler tags, go ahead, but I do not insist on these).

message 2: by Manybooks, Active moderator (new)

Manybooks | 223 comments Mod
Madlenka, is in many ways ingenious and yes, very imaginative and clever.

When Madlenka, who lives in a vibrant and culturally diverse New York City neighbourhood has a loose tooth, she decides to visit her many friends and tell them of this momentous news. Her visiting makes her late, and when her worried parents ask their daughter where she he has been, Madlenka replies that she has been on a trip around the world (and that she has finally lost her tooth).

I very much love and appreciate the premise of this sparsely narrated, lushly illustrated picture book. While there is adequate textual information provided (like the opening and all encompassing concept of Madlenka's loose tooth, the different greetings of Madlenka's diverse friends, bonjour, sathsariakal, buon giorno, guten Tag, hola, tashi delek), much of the details, much of the cultural information is presented with and by the lush and intricately detailed illustrations. I believe children (as well as adults who enjoy hidden object pictures) will love poring over the many small images, attempting to locate objects, stories, culturally significant buildings in Peter Sis' illustrative spreads.

However, and as someone who has always had a bit of difficulty successfully locating hidden objects in picture puzzles, I find it kind of frustrating and annoying that author/illustrator Peter Sis has not also included a list of items to be found, to be located (at the back of the book), as I am sure I missed quite a number of them. But even more than a list of searchable images/articles, what this book, what Madlenka is truly and sadly lacking, is additional cultural and geographic information on the diverse items and scenes depicted (both the more obvious ones and the puzzle-like images hidden in the larger illustrations). These will more than likely give rise to both questions and discussions, and additional informative details on, say, the Grimms' fairy tales, the Eiffel Tower, the pyramids of Latin America, Cleopatra and so forth would have changed Peter Sis' Madlenka from an entertaining and moderately informative puzzle-search picture book offering to an amazing teaching and learning tool, not only for at home, but also in-class use.

About the illustrations themselves, while I think that they are lush, evocative and imaginative, I do find some of the colour sequences Peter Sis has used visually problematic. For example, the dark gray colour scheme of the full-page illustrated section on France makes it quite difficult for me to discern some of the buildings depicted, and I have similar visual issues regarding the full-page spread depicting Germany, as the all-green colour scale makes certain of the stories and literary figures rather difficult to distinguish from each other and from the equally green background. Also, I cannot help but wonder if younger children might not potentially be frightened by some of the illustrations (I know that I would have found rather a few of the images, particularly in the German, Asian and Latin American sections rather creepy and frightening as a young child). All in all though, and my disappointment at the lack of supplemental cultural information notwithstanding, I do strongly and warmly recommend Madlenka to and for children interested in world geography and world culture, especially if said children also enjoy looking for hidden images, hidden objects.

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