by Audra George
When reviewing books by college kids, do I shelve my standards? Do I give 'em a break, put my skepticism on hold, temporarily suspend my snarky disdain for the mediocre, the boring, the been-there-read-that cliches? Or do I give 'em a dose of harsh, welcome to the real world, Toto-we're-not-in-Kansas-anymore reality?
I didn't know what to expect when the nice folks at Red Cygnet emailed to say they had this new idea for an imprint: picture books by college art students. I was pretty sure I wouldn't see stick figures in crayon. After that, who knew?
Fortunately, the lot has proved decent enough, and this one stood out for its simplicity, though darned if that rhyme scheme keeps fading in and out. The illustrations, however, are sprightly and appealing as a girl trades places with a gypsy or "vagabond" and dons a red kerchief and gold hoop earrings. We get a quickie around-the-world tour--from Sydney to Tibet to the Taj Mahal and Paris and then, of course, back home in time for supper.
The back flap says George studied travel sketching, and the book has the simplicity of doodles filled out with dabs of watercolor. Bonus points for portraying a full rainbow of ethnicities too.