Made it through Reading for Research Month (ReFoReMo), the picture book marathon of reading and studying various picture book attributes, so now it’s time to recommend perhaps a book or two from my reading that were not on the prescribed reading list.
While I was combing the stacks of the San Francisco Public Library’s children’s picture book section, one book beckoned me from the top of a display. Librarians are so adept at fostering temptation. Who could resist this cover?
The story starts innocently enough with Leon the lizard enjoying his breakfast, a tasty fly:
Then he does what every other lizard does after filling his belly, suns himself on a big rock. Granted, this lizard is a little more civilized than most what with his use of utensils for dining and a beach chair for sunning.
On page three, things take a—ah—darker turn:
Leon, the lizard has to go poo. Hmmm. What would you expect to happen, considering what we already know about Leon?
Yes, he uses toilet paper. But—oh, no! The roll is empty! What’s a fastidious lizard to do?
The cover provides a hint.
From here on, all bets are off. Leon finds something else to use, something that comes back to haunt him in the voice of his conscience. But is it just his conscience? One must read the story to find out.
Folks, this book’s unusual premise and twist of an ending reminds me of something that the dynamic duo of Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen would dream up and pull off with aplomb. It’s a story of double mistaken identity as it’s applied to characters and objects. Something that kids will LOVE. I will say no more lest I spill the beans.
Originally written in French by Michaël Escoffier and published in 2009, this 2013 edition is translated into English by Kris Di Giacomo, the book’s illustrator.
Although there are no illustrator notes, the images appear to be a marvelous mixture of pencil, ink, watercolor, markers, and a couple snippets of newspaper.
Find it at your bookstore, the library, or on Youtube (if you can’t find it anywhere else). If you find a hard copy, you’ll discover that the pages are as thick as card stock, a benefit for a book that is destined to be read many times over.
TITLE: Brief Thief
Author: Michaël Escoffier
Illustrator/translator: Kris Di Giacomo
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Press
Themes: listening to your conscience, not messing with things that are not yours to mess with, mistaken identity/assumptions, lateral thinking
Target age group: pre-K through 2nd grade