My Pen by Christopher Myers
|My Pen by Christopher Myers|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Simple, but never simplistic – this hymn to art and the imaginations that causes it deserves to be pored over many times.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: April 2015|
How long does it take you to read a picture book? Don't worry counting the number of words, forget totalling the pages, and ignore how many times you may return to bring it off the shelf. What matters so much more than how long it takes to scan a page can be how long it lies in the memory, and what it can lead to. This example, for instance, can be perused in seconds, but creates a vivid and long-standing mental image, and will if it hits the right buttons lead to untold future activities. You can't judge something like this on the value of time.
The line of text on the front cover is blatant yet pertinent – 'all you need is your imagination'. This is but one example of Christopher Myers', and he uses it to eulogise over penmanship, artistic craft – and what it leads to, both on the page and in the pen user. He uses a young lad (ethnicity indeterminate – this is Disney here) and shows him interacting with the drawings he is responsible for – human figures in outstanding poses and circumstances, wacky events, war zones, fantasy worlds. The lad is even designed on to his own bank notes. Whatever the mind can conjure, the pen is the obvious tool to bring it out, is the clear message.
Which does of course kind of produce its own handicap. Even though there is a page of messy, splotty scrawl here, and a page of childish doodles, these examples of pen craft do kind of beg you to sit up and take notice of the artist's abilities. And they're at such a remove from those of the average child I'd not be at all surprised if they put the book away, thinking 'well I have no hope of doing something like THAT' and getting a console out. These designs are bordering on the superlative at times. There's great, easy-looking shading, expressive uses of white on black, and a great character to the human figures that would at least have galled me into submission.
I think then the book may need an attendant adult to be the final encouragement the young reader needs to get them to have a go. The words are simple enough – short sentences on each page, easy to understand both individually and as regards the full message. But at the same time, the illustrations are so confident and interesting and engaging that a mature-minded youngster will return to them, and I think given familiarity will be on board to try their best too. That's the end intent of the book – I'm sure there's an autobiographical thread here about how Myers was changed through using a pen, and with the easiest use of imagination your young reader too could pick one up and make the world a better place for its use. So be ready with the scrap paper…
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
While it concerns games as well as artworks, The Pencil Book by Miri Flower seems worth mentioning as an obvious cousin to this title. Tell me a Picture - Adventures in Looking at Art by Quentin Blake will show the young audience what varied art is out there.
You can read more book reviews or buy My Pen by Christopher Myers at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy My Pen by Christopher Myers at Amazon.com.
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