Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Water Boy

Water Boy

Spring 2007 Picture Books
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: David McPhail
Illustrator: David McPhail
ISBN: 978-0-8109-1784-2
Hardcover Price: $15.95
The words, "You are mostly made of water." start a young boy on a mysterious exploration of that very substance. He passes from questions ("Would he dissolve in the rain?") through fears ("If his cat scratched him, would all the water leak out...?") to kinship ("When he stood on the cliffs, the waves sang to him.") and finally to control ("...he was able to toss water from a glass and have it come snapping back, like a yo-yo.") There's even an ecological moment when he pours magically concentrated droplets into a river to cleanse it and the sea, in return, sends him a message of thanks in a bottle. The lack of a name (he is always called "the boy") and the deliberate cadences of the sentences give this a feeling of universality and great solemnity while the luminous images-lit by a strange interior light-lend a dreamlike quality to every scene. This is a book that will appeal to the quiet, inquiring, and introspective child who sees-or seeks-mystery and magic in the everyday world.
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Kristi Elle Jemtegaard is the Coordinator of Youth Services for the Arlington Public Library system. She has taught courses on children’s and young adult literature at the Catholic University of America and the University of Virginia. She has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott Award Committees of the American Library Association and has chaired the Notable Children’s Recordings Committee and the May Hill Arbuthnot Award Committee. She is a member and past president of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and has chaired the Washington Post–Book Guild Nonfiction Award Committee. She is a founding member of Capitol Choices, an organization of professionals in the field of children’s literature in the greater Washington DC area. She regularly reviews children’s literature and audio productions for a variety of national publications.

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