Friday, November 22, 2019

Review - Grasshopper Eye and the Lost Vial

Grasshopper Eye and the Lost Vial
by Michelle Jester
illustrated by Larry Jester
Date: 2019
Publisher: Yellow Duckie Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 44
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

When the villagers first noticed that they each had one item missing from their homes, they set out on a journey that helped them find something far more valuable. Join Grasshopper Eye on a journey through friendships, feeling, and fitting in.

This book is featured in the contemporary fiction novel by Michelle Jester, Two Thousand Lines, however this is a stand-alone book for children.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Grasshopper Eye and the Lost Vial appears to be a sort of meta picture-book offering, similar to Elena Ferrante's The Beach at Night. This story apparently featured in one of Jester's adult novels. Unlike The Beach at Night, Grasshopper Eye and the Lost Vial is actually suitable for children... but I'm not sure I would recommend it to them.

The story itself, about a grasshopper who makes vials for the villagers to keep their tears in, ends up being pedantic and preachy, and ultimately a bit nonsensical. Grasshopper Eye makes a special glass vial (illustrated with a photo, which looks odd in conjunction with the hand-drawn doodles of the characters) for each villager. Whenever they cry, they store their tears in the vial. One day, a villainous ogre by the name of BugBear Opie becomes jealous and steals all the vials. Then the villagers can't cry. They resort to getting angry instead. Eventually, the vials are found, except for one: Grasshopper Eye's. The other villagers offer him their vials to use, and he's so touched that he cries. The ogre cries, too, and apologizes... and then everyone cries. Grasshopper Eye makes a vial for the ogre, even though he doesn't need one anymore (wait... what?).

I think the narrative lost me at the end. The story shows the characters crying for various reasons, and even explicitly talks about the importance of crying... but then it implies the ogre doesn't need a vial because he's happy. What about happy tears? Grateful tears? Do those not get bottled? And why do these characters need a special vial in order to cry in the first place?

There's a Bible quote at the back about weeping and loving people around you. I guess that was what inspired the story. The sentiment is nice, but the execution is pretty flawed. The writing almost made me wonder if the book were written by a child (the language is stilted and sort of reads like a kid trying to impress their teacher). The illustrations, as I mentioned before, are a strange mix of drawings and photographs. I've seen that work in other books, but it doesn't really work here.

Kids might like this, but I have my doubts as to whether readers who enjoyed the novel that this book appears in are going to be all that impressed.

Thank you to NetGalley and Yellow Duckie Press for providing a digital ARC.

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

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.83 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment