cover image Wallpaper


Thao Lam. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77147-283-8

A girl with brown skin moves into a new neighborhood. Out her window, she sees three children in a tree house, and they wave. But shyness overtakes her, and she hides out in her new room, whose many layers of wallpaper are peeling. In a tour de force of mostly wordless cut-paper art, Lam (Skunk on a String) makes each layer come alive in an extended fantasy sequence. A flock of lemony birds gives way to a tropical forest, where the girl encounters a blobby monster with a toothy, underslung jaw. It pursues her until she realizes that running is futile. “Hello,” she greets it bravely; its dejected face lights up. The fantasy ends, and the girl’s newfound courage helps her greet her young neighbors with confidence. The subtle three-dimensionality of Lam’s paper collages makes the girl appear ready to jump off the page, and lines drawn on the paper provide facial expressions and other embellishments, further clarifying the action. Lam’s rich visual storytelling illuminates the way that children’s internal lives help them move through loss and anxiety. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)