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The Squiggle


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About the Author

Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan are longtime friends and collaborators. The Squiggle, their first book together for Crown, was an ALA Notable Book and a Booklist Editors' Choice. Both author and artist live and work in Seattle, Washington.


This call to creativity shows that rope need not serve a purely functional purpose. Walking with her classmates on a trip to the park, a dark-haired girl finds a flexible length of red cord and begins to shape it into outlines on the sidewalk. Her designs have a Chinese theme: she creates a festival dragon's curving spine, a tightrope for an acrobat who carries a bamboo umbrella, and the angular edge of the Great Wall. She then shows her inventions to her classmates, who had been moving "in a bunched-up, slow, tight, straight line"; when they take hold of the rope, their procession loosens into a "squiggle." Schaefer (In the Children's Garden) adds an aural dimension to the girl's visual game, imagining "Crack crickle hiss-the sky trail of popping fireworks" and "Ripple shhh-the circle of a deep still pool." Morgan (The Nine Days Wonder) illustrates with calligraphic strokes of marker and gouache on speckly, paper-bag-brown stock. With a few deliberate lines, minimal color and plenty of negative space, he suggests the blank openness onto which the girl projects her ideas. Together, Schaefer and Morgan encourage readers to see that mundane objects hold playful possibilities. Ages 3-7. (Dec.)

"Joyful and clever and with oh so much child appeal."--Booklist, starred review

"Presents one of the universal joys of childhood in an accessible and charming fashion."--School Library Journal, starred review

"Splendid, vibrant illustrations...a fabulous read-aloud."--Kirkus Reviews

"Delightful fantasy, charming watercolor illustrations."--The New York Times Book Review

PreS-Gr 1-When a group of young children set off with their teacher on an orderly walk through the park, the very last little girl spies a "squiggle" on the ground and picks it up. As she twirls, twists, and turns the long red ribbon, she imagines it to be a dragon, a thundercloud, a "full fat moon," and much more. She hastily rejoins the group and, much to their delight, demonstrates her treasure's potential. Then the youngsters continue the walk, not as a "bunched-up, slow, tight, straight line," but in exuberant squiggle-style, instead. A distinctly Asian look is conveyed through the vertical calligraphy of the title on the cover and through the clothing and facial expressions of the chunky children in the gouache-and-marker illustrations. The speckled brown-paper backgrounds add texture and a sense of solidity as does the visual weight of the children. In contrast, the imaginative scenes conjured up by the red squiggle are lighter in line and brighter in coloration. The very easy text effectively uses onomatopoeia to capture the crackle of fireworks and the stillness of a deep pool; its placement and typeface enhance the design of every page. This paean to flights of fancy is, at once, a simple picture book and a study in subtle contrasts. Perfect for preschool listeners, it presents one of the universal joys of childhood in an accessible and charming fashion.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ

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