cover image On My Island

On My Island

Marie-Louise Gay. Groundwood Books, $16.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-88899-396-0

Originally published in France, this minimal tale centers on a boy who announces, ""I live alone on my island,"" a small semi-sphere in the middle of the sea, which he goes on to say he actually shares with a wolf, two cats, three ants and a bat. The illustrations belie the text and convey the irony that, while the child and his menagerie loll about entirely bored, they are oblivious to the bizarre happenings around them. The illustrations do not make clear what separates the boy from the goings-on; a sea serpent encircles the island, cowboys ride on the backs of dolphins and elephants parachute into the sea, as a volcano erupts in the distance. Creatively textured, Gay's offbeat, collage-like art displays some comical images and the variable type sizes take on inventive configurations. Yet the goings-on here may well puzzle rather than entertain youngsters. Although they are meant to scoff at the narrator's lament that ""nothing, absolutely nothing ever happens on my island"" (revealed on a final spread to be the boy's brain), children are apt to identify with the islander; it's the parents who may appreciate the irony. Ages 3-9. (Apr.)