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Marianne Dubuc: Animal Masquerade and In Front of My House June 29, 2012

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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Small format books hold an endless fascination for me. I feel like they either need to be rich with complete landscapes and lush character detail (think Beatrix Potter or the Brambly Hedge books) or else have just one or two bold images on each page telling the story. Marianne Dubuc, a French-Canadian illustrator enjoying some excellent reviews lately, falls into the latter category.

Dubuc’s two books that have been translated into English both depend on creating anticipation for what will come next on the page. In Animal Masquerade, the question is ‘What will the animal disguise itself as?’ In In Front of my House, you wonder ‘What will be there?’ The brightly colored art, created with pencil crayon, has soft edges and just enough detail to make you smile. The images pop against the white (or occasionally black) backgrounds, so that when Dubuc throws in a spread with multiple images or a full setting, it comes as a fun surprise. She does the same thing with the patterns in her text. In Animal Masquerade, most animals dress as other animals, but you occasionally run into a fairy tale character or a cake. In In Front of my House, there is usually a single item ‘on the edge of the pond’ or ‘in the bush’ but sometimes the reader is presented with a list, such as the whale that swallows, among other items, a magician’s hat.

Children who can’t read yet will enjoy looking at the pictures in Dubuc’s books, but they also make great interactive read alouds. If you can get your audience guessing what the next animal will appear as, it’s a great chance for kids to be creative and try to think outside the box. These books could also make a great model for a writing exercise, as even kids who struggle with creative writing usually do well with pattern books. Maybe all the animals come dressed as objects, or movie characters. Maybe you start in front of your house and end up in New Zealand. Dubuc has created some marvelous, fantastical worlds in these two small books, where any reader should be happy to spend some time. Find them at your library or local bookstore now!

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