STICK KID

Peter Holwitz, Author
Peter Holwitz, Author . Philomel $13.99 (40p) ISBN 0-399-24163-9
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When a pen-and-ink sketch takes on a life of its own, its unseen illustrator-parent draws new things to keep it happy. "I once drew a stick kid./ Just a quick little stick kid," the narrator recalls, picturing a boy with a balloon-shaped head, black-line body and wan half-smile. Suddenly, the drawing opens its big, soulful eyes and announces, "I'm your stick kid./ Your quick little stick kid." The 2-D boy, in an apt Frankenstein moment, asks for some stick friends. The illustrator also complies when the kid requests a car and, "one night, when day was through,/ he drove away on the road I drew." The tone turns doleful as the artist reflects on the first drawing of the boy, as though poring over old photos. Much later, a boxy red car appears ("I'm pretty certain/ I didn't draw it"), and the stick kid, with a fringe of beard and tired wrinkles under his eyes, gets out and introduces his stick wife and child. As he did in The Big Blue Spot , Holwitz uses line and a dab of color on a plain white background; his simplified style recalls Munro Leaf's Safety Can Be Fun and, more recently, Todd Parr's work. Holwitz also emphasizes his playful artistic process. At one point, the kid hangs upside-down, as though the artist has rotated the sketchbook. Yet the kid seems unable to draw for himself, at least at first; the stick kid's hopeful eyes implore the all-powerful illustrator (and readers) for assistance, striking a maudlin note. Ages 3-up. (May)

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