Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Review - Leave Me Alone!

Leave Me Alone!
by Vera Brosgol
Date: 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

A 2017 Caldecott Honor Book that The New York Times calls “both classic and ultracontemporary,” Leave Me Alone! is an epic tale about one grandmother, a giant sack of yarn, and her ultimate quest to finish her knitting.

One day, a grandmother shouts, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" and leaves her tiny home and her very big family to journey to the moon and beyond to find peace and quiet to finish her knitting. Along the way, she encounters ravenous bears, obnoxious goats, and even hordes of aliens! But nothing stops grandma from accomplishing her goal—knitting sweaters for her many grandchildren to keep them warm and toasty for the coming winter.

Vera Brosgol's slyly clever and unexpectedly funny modern folktale is certain to warm even the coldest of hearts.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a bit of a confused book. It doesn't know whether it wants to be folksy or just plain weird. And there's not a lot of consistency, so it's kind of a chaotic read.

I felt for the poor old woman at the beginning. I bet when she had three daughters, she never expected them to spend their early adulthood being brood mares. The poor old thing ends up with thirty grandchildren, with not a son-in-law in sight (which I guess explains why they all have to live with her in her house). Way to pick your husbands, ladies.

So the old woman wants to get some knitting done for her annoying grandchildren. Of course, she can't get it done in that house, with all those dumb kids trying to eat her yarn, so she packs up her stuff (yarn, samovar, etc.) in a big sack and goes into the woods. She builds a fire so she can see to knit, and then is immediately accosted by bears. She tells them to leave her alone, but the bears don't get it because they don't understand English. (Logic fail #1: If you're in a rural Russian setting, it's not surprising that the bears don't speak English. I would be more surprised if they did.)

She leaves the woods and climbs the mountain, where she encounters goats. I thought these guys were actually pretty cute, but the old woman doesn't stay there long because the goats keep trying to eat her yarn (much like her grandchildren... but at least the goats are more discerning; they like the red yarn best). So she keeps walking up the mountain and--now things start to get really stupid--onto the moon. Where she meets moon-men. With scanners. She doesn't like them, either (this woman doesn't seem to like anyone) so she steps through a wormhole into a black void. Yes, a wormhole. It's dark and quiet, and she gets all of her knitting done. (Logic fail #2: If you need to build a fire in the forest so you can see to knit, how are you able to knit in a pitch-black void?)

The woman knits thirty little sweaters (I don't know why; don't give those little parasites gifts, or they'll stay forever!) and goes through another wormhole and back to her house. Everything is just as she left it, apparently. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a good or a bad thing; to be honest, by that point, I was just waiting for the book to be over.

The illustrations are cute and funny, but the story was so all over the place that I didn't like it at all. If there's a sequel where the old woman tells her three daughters to find their own place and discipline their own darn kids, I might read that; as it was, I was so frustrated by the irresponsible breeding, and the chaos in the house was stressing me out. I don't blame the old woman for continually shouting, "Leave me alone!"

If she'd been smart, she would've stayed in the void.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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