Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Reviews: The Fog
Publish January 9, 2018
In The Fog, by award-winning Toronto author Kyo Maclear, the picturesque isle of “Icy Land” is home to a small, observant yellow bird. An avid “human watcher”, Warble installs a telescope in his nest and pithily records daily sightings in a log book. When a thick, dense fog mysteriously rolls in, Warble tries his best to chase it away, but the haze does not lift. Apathy also spreads quickly and the other animals don’t seem to notice or care about the changes. Warble begins to forget there was ever a time before the fog, until he spots a rare “#673 Red –Hooded Spectacled Female (Juvenile)” who shares the same concerns. Together they send paper origami boats out to sea with the message, “Do you see the fog?” After waiting a long time, acknowledgements arrive from around the world, including a note from a walrus in eastern Canada, and the message, “Yes and we want to fix it”, from a musk ox in Norway. With each declaration and offer of support, the fog starts to dissipate.
Kenard Pak’s atmospheric watercolour and pencil illustrations are awash in icy, silvery blues, and opaque, ghostly grey-whites. The end papers show sketches of a variety of human-sightings, like “#672 Bald-Headed Glitzy Male”, “#670 Dapper Bespectacled Booklover”, and “#664 American Bushy-Browed Surf-Head”. In this nuanced, open-ended picture book, the fog could be a metaphor for many things. The final, hopeful image of the little girl and her bird friend watching the stars together and gazing out at the multitude of messages floating on the water poetically shows the importance of being able to see clearly.
Linda Ludke is a librarian at London Public Library. Her reviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, School Library Journal and CM: Canadian Review of Materials. When she’s not reading and writing she also loves searching for vintage treasures.
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