Friday, May 10, 2019

Review - Annie Imagines

Annie Imagines
by Mary Elizabeth Smith
illustrated by Linda Carol Carter
Date: 2019
Publisher: Senigami Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Annie Imagines is about a girl who thinks she sees fairies but isn't sure. She turns to her grandmother for an explanation and reassurance. Through a process of presenting imaginative encounters, Grandma elevates Annie's ability to see things in a new way, allowing her creativity to soar. The Grandmother is the creative mentor in Annie's process of becoming confident. First by accepting Annie's expression of doubts and confusion over her perception of fairies. And secondly, through Grandma's ability to mirror Annie's fantastic imagination, she gently guides Annie into acceptance of her creative ability. Grandma becomes the most important relationship in Annie's artistic and imaginative development. This is the basis that builds Annie's, and any child's self-esteem, confidence, and aspiration.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is not the book for me. While I do believe imagination is important, I think there are other ways to promote that idea without being so... well, in-your-face, for lack of a better term. This book is not subtle at all in its message, and I think I might've enjoyed it more had it been vaguer, which would've forced me to think about it a little more.

The narrative starts off kind of weak for me, with Annie asking her mom if she believes in fairies. Mama seems to think the question is whether fairies are real, not whether she believes in them, because rather than answering the simple yes-or-no question, she pawns the kid off on her grandmother.

Grandma is kind of like a hippie fortune cookie, and the rest of the book is spent with her dispensing her wise wisdom about imagination and encouraging Annie to think creatively. It's not that it's a bad message, but, like I said, it's kind of glaring and not at all subtle. There's literally no other story in the book, other than the grandmother encouraging Annie to imagine objects in clouds or figure out what she'd do with a pile of random objects.

There are a couple of pages at the end with classroom activities (basically, just getting kids to use their imaginations the way Annie does in the book). I don't think these are necessary, given the way the "story" is done; they seem redundant.

I'm also really not a fan of the illustrations. I suspected early on that they were painted from photographic references (which is confirmed in the illustrator bio). For me, they all have this weird unrealistic reality to them; I think I would've rather seen the characters stylized a little bit, to try to get away from that uncanny quality. The illustrations are certainly colourful and match the text. But they're just not my thing.

So, while I like the overall message of the book, I think the execution is a bit heavy handed and I'm not a fan of the pictures. Kids might be more forgiving about some of these issues, though. As always, taste is subjective.

Thank you to NetGalley and Senigami Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.83 out of 5

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