Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sebastian's Roller Skates

Sebastian's Roller Skates by Joan de Deu Prats, illustrated by Francesc Rovira. Originally published in Spain.

(Thanks to Big A little a for the author link, above.)

The Plot: Sebastian is a shy little boy, who won't speak up for any reason; not to say hello; not to tell the barber that he doesn't like his haircut; not to make friends with the girl in class. Then one day he finds a pair of roller skates.

Sebastian cannot resist the roller skates, and as he slowly builds up skating skill and confidence, so, to, does he conquer his shyness. While Sebastian practices on his own, it's thanks to a rather large dog that Sebastian realizes that he's become a good skater.

The Good: I love the pictures; as shown in the cover, a mix of painting and collage.

Sebastian achieves through his own work; while one may wonder who left the skates for Sebastian to find, it is Sebastian who decides (after finding the skates in the same place for two days in a row) that he will skate, and Sebastian teaches himself. I love when children have autonomy in book, and there is no Deus Ex Machina grown up. (What's the term for that? Deus ex Adult? Grown Up Ex Machina?)

This book is from Kane/Miller, a company that publishes books from around the world. Books like Sebastian's Roller Skates, even tho they never say "Sebastian lived in Spain" or anything else to indicate that place, still have a sense of place that is not America. I love how there is that "feel", in the drawings, in the text, in the pictures of Sebastian's school, that reveal that this not taking place in the US. At the same time, the story is one that can be enjoyed by any reader, wherever they live.

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