cover image The Old Woman & the Wave

The Old Woman & the Wave

Shelley Jackson / Author DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) $1

How does a person find courage to face her biggest fear? Jackson (Willy's Silly Grandma) explores this existential question with humor and sympathy, using her sophisticated collage art to create drama through a pastiche of characters and landscapes. The simple plot centers on an old woman whose house sits precariously under an enormous wave. The woman's crankiness hides her all-consuming fear of the wave and the life-threatening disaster she believes will happen at any second. Branding the wave ""wasteful,"" ""careless"" and ""clumsy,"" she pretends to ignore it until her more adventurous dog plunges into the metaphoric source of life. This is a ""once upon a time"" story in the true sense, in which fear of the unknown is never outgrown, but is, rather, faced and overcome. Jackson's artistry in telling the old woman's story works, as folktales do, to create an otherworldly landscape and the perspective needed to face life's ""waves"" fearlessly. By illustrating the tale with gloriously detailed word pictures (many contain phrases that are potential clues to the woman's liberation) Jackson may also inspire readers of all ages to take an artistic approach to problem solving. Even though the deeper meaning may be lost on young readers, there is plenty of drama and whimsy to keep the entertainment level high. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)