Powerfully affirmative books on a vast range of qualities.
The true test of whether a new children’s book hits the mark is the kids’ call for repeat reads. Using this standard, and I might add with two bilingual (English/French) grandchildren aged 5 and 7, the author and illustrator of both “Land of AND” and “Land of OR” have themselves two winners by enthusiastic acclaim.
The unprompted requests to have these handsomely large volumes read to them over and over again, announces a list of compelling reasons why these gorgeous tomes will become classics with a wide age range of tiny citizens.
Youngsters are so alive in their sensory life, so that any book placed in front of them, particularly at this point in time with the plethora of media devices competing for their eyes, must have a certain magic to attract them, and added value mystique to do it a second time, then repeat curtain calls thereafter.
The illustrations by Toby Allen in both books, are at once powerful, playful, original, and likeable, quite a recipe for succeeding with a progressively hipper and more discerning audience. My grandson and granddaughter both love the illustrations, so this is a remarkable feat in and of itself.
Much as in a dramatic feature film or memorable documentary, the most successful offerings place unforgettable characters in front of us, and we simply must return to them over and over.
In “Land of AND”, we meet alluring characters such as “The Guide”, “The Kid”, “Yabbut”, “Handi”, and so many more, then in “Land of OR”, a very different cast arrives in the forms of “Happy”, Patience”, “Timid”, “Playful”, “Grateful”, “Strong”, and my personal favourite “Skittish”.
Author Katie Mullaly is a self‐confessed lover of rhyme, rhythm, and reason, and if I could make copies of her to place in every school under the sun, we would have a much kinder, more serendipitous populace.
These are powerfully affirmative books on a vast range of qualities, and just like the very best entertainers in the world; if they make it look easy on stage, you know a ton of work has gone into their performance.
So it is with Katie Mullaly and Toby Allen, I feel the love and professionalism these two artists invest in these important works, and all I can say in the end is: encore, encore, encore.
Gregory B. Gallagher is an award‐winning filmmaker, travel writer, and one of the original Canadian writers of the Sesame Street TV Show. He lives on an island in French Canada with his wife, artist Linda Hart.