Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chloe and the Lion (and Mac and Adam too)

The new children’s book Chloe and the Lion is from author Mac Barnett and illustrator Adam Rex.  Here is what I knew about Barnett and Rex before I read the book: next to nothing.  I knew that Adam Rex was funny because I want to retweet everything that I see on his twitter account because the guy is hilarious. As for Mac Barnett, I hate to admit, I hadn’t seen his books on the KidLit radar, I hadn’t heard about his other fabulous picture books or his awesome MG novel series (Brixton Brothers).  After reading Chloe and the Lion, I can tell you that both Barnett and Rex are clever, funny, and adorable creators of KidLit and I predict they will continue to make a splash in this genre for years to come.

Chloe and the Lion is collaborated on before your eyes in this story within a story book.  Both author Mac Barnett and illustrator Adam Rex are on-going characters, in the shape of claymation dolls, in this adventure.  Mac wants things one way, Adam another.  When they part ways citing creative differences, the book comes to a halt.  Readers get to see behind the curtain of creating a book.  Revisions and editing are all fair game as the story is written and rewritten before your eyes.  Not only is all of this happening in a children’s book, it is hilarious.  I read it to myself, read it to my 3 yr old, and made my husband read it.  I knew my husband thought it was funny because rather than laughing he handed it back to me thoughtfully and declared, you know, that was really funny.  Three year old laughed at Adam’s hand protruding from the lion’s mouth for a good portion of the book.

Children and adults of all ages will appreciate both Barnett’s clever storytelling and Rex’s layers of illustrations.  Rex offers hand drawn characters, layered backdrops, and as mentioned before, adorable claymation dolls.   He stretches the imagination of readers, utilizing artistic techniques not often found in books written for children.  As for Barnett’s offering, he charms readers with his short temper, lack of confidence, and stubbornness.  That’s not to say that Barnett comes off as dislikable.  He is a charming hoot!  His story finally comes to together, plus he manages to satisfy readers, artists, and characters alike.

This book might appeal to a certain crowd of readers.  If you like slightly dark humor, enjoy being a voyeur into the world of collaboration, or you already have had the treat of enjoying Rex and Barnett’s other work, this book is for you.  If you like happy endings, beautifully drawn fairytale scenes, or have the expectation that books are just books, still check out this book, but be warned, you might change your mind after reading.

On a personal note, I wanted to add that a couple days after reading this book with my 3 yr old, he had a story to tell me.  He began, "Once upon a time there was a boy.  The boy had a Mom and a Dad who loved him very much.  One day there was a dragon.  The dragon came and ate the boy up.  The boy put his arm out of the dragon's mouth.  He waved at his Mom and Dad.  The Mom and Dad pulled on the boy and the dragon coughed him up.  They lived happily ever after." So, let me add to my praise of the book simply by saying, The book is inspiring young storytellers. The End.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to add, just because I was thrilled about this last little bit. I sent a Tweet promoting this post. I 'mentioned' Adam and Mac in the Tweet.

    @TeacherMotherRe Teacher:
    Chloe and the Lion (and Mac and Adam too)
    or How @MrAdamRex and @macbarnett inspired
    a very young storyteller.

    And I recieved this little Tweet back from Adam Rex:

    @MrAdamRex Adam Rex:
    @TeacherMotherRe @macbarnett That was a
    pretty good story your 3-year-old told.

    So, that means, Adam Rex, illustrator of this lovely book came and saw the review and liked what my Lil Guy had to say! How sweet. :)