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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