Review by Kelly Carey
Be prepared to laugh uncontrollably at Mother Bruce and the growing goslings who climb on him, tug at him, become troublesome teenagers, are annoyingly adorable and will absolutely not leave Bruce alone. Bruce is not your average bear in the forest. He finds recipes on the internet, shops with a shopping cart, and sets out to make hard-boiled goose eggs with a honey salmon sauce. Before he can boil the eggs, they hatch and Bruce becomes a very grumpy, growling, furrowed brow Mother Bruce. He tries desperately to ditch the goslings who lovingly tail him all over the forest.
The illustrations alone will have you howling. Add in a story line filled with humor that appeals to kids and adults alike and the result is a belly laugh inducing picture book that will make you wish for goose eggs that hatch.
Higgins’ Mother Bruce is masterfully plotted. The page turns are fast paced, and the creative story line zigs and zags with a wonderful unpredictability. The writing follows the number one rule established by the writers of South Park. The South Park writers advise that the beats between your scenes should connect with the words “therefore”, and “but then” rather than the snooze worthy “and then”. (You can watch them discuss this during a guest lecture at NYU using the button below. But beware; the language is colorful so have your bar of soap handy.)
Higgins has achieved this plot rule brilliantly and the result is a thoroughly entertaining story that keeps the reader anxious, frazzled and laughing hysterically.
Review by Amanda Smith
Bridget loves to draw and paint, but her most important art staple is her black beret, exactly like Cezanne or Picasso wore. When a wisp of wind whisks Bridget’s beret off her head, over the fence and out of sight, Bridget is convinced that she is no longer able to draw. Bridget is is stuck in artist’s block, until her little sister asks her to make a sign for their lemonade stand. Since it’s not technically drawing, Bridget agrees, and finds her way back to her art.
BRIDGET'S BERET by Tom Lichtenheld (Henry Holt and Company, 2010) is a rich and layered text. On the surface there is the straight forward story of Bridget losing her beret and her art mojo along with it. Puns and smart interactions between text and illustration add a deeper layer to the story.
The illustrations also reference multiple famous artists and works of art in humorous ways, which add more depth and make this text a fun read-aloud for the art classroom. Tom Lichtenheld adds another layer by breaking the fourth wall with a bunny character and Bridget who both speak directly to the reader. The book also contains a side bar and back matter inspiring readers to take the next step and create something themselves.
It is this last layer that makes this book an instigator. As in, it starts stuff. When I read it with my son, we poured over the back matter. I reminded him of multiple times during the last week when he said, “I want to draw something, but I don’t know what.” He flipped to the “What the heck is artist’s block?” page and said, “I want to do one of these” and we made some awesome scribble drawings. My favorite part of Bridget's Beret was that it inspired us to create together.
The subliminal message of Bridget’s Beret resonates well with writers. Everything we need to create our art is already inside us, just like Bridget’s ability to create was already inside her, and not dependent on an object or a gimmick. Her actions were what brought out her ability to create. When she started drawing the sign, it unlocked her ability to draw. Similarly, the only way for us as writers to unlock our ability to write, is by writing. Thanks Bridget (and Tom).
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