Elizabeth Imagined an Iceberg

Elizabeth Imagined an Iceberg

by Chris Raschka
     
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Several notches below his usual form here, Raschka ( Yo! Yes? ; Charlie Parker Played Be Bop ) delivers a tale that verges on the impenetrable. Out for a bike ride one day, Elizabeth encounters the decidedly weird Madam Uff Da, an overbearing six-footer who promises her a rip-roaring good time (``We'll fizz with the insects, we'll trot with the armadillos, and we'll laugh HA HA HA HA HA all day'') and then gets too close for comfort. Elizabeth escapes by visualizing what her imaginary friend (an iceberg) would do, and successfully freezes out the interloper. Raschka's breezy illustration style is as wittily offbeat as ever--Madam Uff Da's pudgy feet and fire-engine red toenails provide some genuine comic relief--but the art can't carry the book by itself. The problem is the story, or more precisely, the lack of one. Is it a treatise on how to fend off possible child molesters? An object lesson in how not to be a domineering grown-up? Or perhaps merely a romp that misfired? Only the author knows for sure. The reader, sadly, will remain mystified. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 6-A provocative but chilling book. Elizabeth meets a large woman who sips green, bubbling soda and giggles. When Madam Uff Da sweeps her up in an unwelcome embrace and begins a dizzying dance, Elizabeth imagines an iceberg. It gives her the courage to tell the bizarre stranger to ``get away from me.'' Raschka successfully replicates a common encounter with an adult whose behavior is so odd that a child knows instinctively that something is wrong. Through surrealistic distortion, gesture, and expression, the inebriated woman is depicted as more scary than dangerous. The use of heavily saturated red, black, and orange suggests an unsettling image of the disorienting debauchery. There are several disturbing issues here. The most obvious is how a child copes with a frightening stranger. There may be a darker subtext. The first page tells readers that Elizabeth imagines an iceberg and, ``confident that it might be friendly, she visited it often, quite bravely.'' This is reminiscent of a survival technique called dissociation, common to victims of sexual abuse. Young readers may be puzzled by the use of an iceberg as a symbol of refuge and confused by the euphemistic term ``soda.'' Adults will regret that the apprehensive Elizabeth promptly tells the woman her name. Raschka portrays a serious and bewildering incident in which the child may have neither the vocabulary nor the experience to verbalize or interpret easily but from which she is empowered, by her own action, to extricate herself. Consider for inclusion on bibliographies dealing with issues of alcohol and drug abuse.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780531068175
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
03/01/1994
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
7.56(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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