cover image The Squiggle

The Squiggle

Carole Lexa Schaefer, Pierr Morgan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70047-1

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.)