Joseph Fipps

Nadine Robert, trans. from the French by Claudia Bedrick, illus. by Geneviève Godbout. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-59270-117-9
First published in Canada, this debut for both Robert and Godbout heralds both as talents to watch as it dives deep into the headspace of its five-year-old hero. Godbout draws in the gentlest oil pastels, but there’s nothing subdued about what Joseph is feeling. He hates his new nickname, “Gremlin” (he sees himself as more of a “Griffin”), and after his mother chastises him for trying to climb a tall ladder, Joseph unloads, his fist clenched and face flushed with rage: “You always say ‘no’! I can never do anything. You’re mean and I want another mommy.” Even at the height of their confrontation, Joseph isn’t “just” angry; he’s frustrated, regretful, and upset, a realistic tangle of feelings that grows to allow for some confused horror after Joseph’s mother tells him she knows a mother walrus “who might be willing to have you.” Robert gives Joseph time and space to think (and sulk), giving full credence to ability of children to sort through complicated emotions on their own—and, sometimes, with help from a hulking, imaginary Mommy Walrus. Ages 3–7. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/17/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
Genre: Children's
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