What The Word On The Street is Reading

With such an interesting title and eye-catching illustrations, I couldn’t resist reading Kyo Maclear’s new children’s book, Virgina Wolf, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault and published by Kids Can Press.

About the Book:

Vanessa’s sister, Virginia, is in a “wolfish” mood — growling, howling and acting very strange. It’s a funk so fierce, the whole household feels topsy-turvy. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work. Then Virginia tells Vanessa about an imaginary, perfect place called Bloomsberry. Armed with an idea, Vanessa begins to paint Bloomsberry on the bedroom walls, transforming them into a beautiful garden complete with a ladder and swing “so that what was down could climb up.” Before long, Virginia, too, has picked up a brush and undergoes a surprising transformation of her own. Loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolf is an uplifting story for readers of all ages.

What drew me to the book were the illustrations. They are absolutely gorgeous and I like that the words are integrated into the illustration. What made me love the book though was the story. I had an idea of what the story would be about based on the title, but I was pleasantly surprised how Kyo managed to create a story with such heavy influences that could appeal to an audience of all ages. On the outside, it’s a delightful story that follows the plight of a younger sister trying to pull her beloved older sister out of her funk, and underneath that is a deeper story exploring mental illness through the semi-biographical tale of author Virginal Woolf.

I would recommend this story to everyone. It is appealing to all ages, as it has a number of different ways to understand the story. Young readers will relate to the sister’s interactions, and will eventually grow into the story, while the people reading it to them will enjoy it for all of its elements, plus its literary allegory. I’m looking forward to adding it to my bookshelf!

– Kristen.

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