Review by Kelly Carey
In this lyrical and beautifully illustrated picture book, THE LITTLE BLUE COTTAGE (Page Street Kids, 2020) anticipates annual summer visits from a young girl. Each visit bonds the cottage and the growing girl as she sits in a quiet reading nook, swims with dolphins, and shelters from a wave crashing storm. Families will recognize their own vacation traditions tucked in the pages as this book celebrates the continuation of trips to favorite destinations that are passed down from generation to generation. If your summer plans involve a visit to grandmother’s or a getaway with your own children to a spot you were taken as a child, this is the perfect read-aloud.
In addition to gorgeous and sparse writing, author Kelly Jordan employs writing techniques that make The Little Blue Cottage an excellent mentor text for pacing and tension, and the use of senses.
Each time the girl returns to the cottage, Jordan creates a rhythm for the reader and this page turning beat adds a comfortable pacing to the book. She masterfully breaks this rhythm when the girl skips summer visits, and the result is a wonderful escalation of tension right in the middle of the book. This use of a repeating incident, the girl's visits, and the break from that repeat become a sharp tool for controlling the pacing and tension in the story.
Jordan also uses language to infuse a static house with emotion. The house “whistled and hummed and filled with light” when the girl arrives and from those well-chosen words, we know just how the house is feeling. When the text shares that the house smelled like "bacon, pancakes and popcorn" the reader will overlay their own experiences with those scents. Use this book to study how Jordan used all five senses to assign emotion and heart to a static main character.
The Little Blue Cottage is the perfect place to explore themes of seasons passing, weather, time, and the cyclical nature of shared traditions.
To learn more about Jordan Kelly visit her website.
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