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Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

You may recall that I adored Antoinette's book Not a Box when I reviewed it in December of 2006. And I told Ms. Portis so at the SCBWI conference in LA.

This year (technically, just at the very end of last year), Antoinette came back with a sequel, of sorts. The bunny of Not a Box is presumably still very engaged with his Not-a-Box. Antoinette's new opus, Not a Stick features a young pig at play with something else. Whatever it is, it is "not a stick."

The book features some of the same conventions as its predecessor: an "off-screen" (most likely adult) voice offering cautions and asking questions, and on on-screen child character with an object. When the adult voice asks questions, we see the child with the stick. When the child answers, we see a far more elaborate scene in which the stick is transformed into something else - a fishing rod, a paintbrush, and more. As in the first book, the cover is evocative before you even open the book. Whereas Not a Box was cardboard brown and felt like cardboard, Not a Stick is smooth and hard and made to look like wood.

This book is perfect for imaginary children everywhere, and an excellent reminder to adults that encouraging imaginative play is better than stifling it (even though that lesson is never spelled out, I think it's readily inferred). The simple line drawings of the pig and his/her stick are adorable and fully of whimsy, and the fuller spreads of the pig-child's imaginary world are marvelous.

The final conclusion?

You or a child you know really needs this book.

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