Where Portis's Not a Boxfeatured a plain brown wrapper, this winning sequel proffers a faux wood-grain cover. And where the earlier title featured a deceptively boxlike, hollow rectangle (which an inventive rabbit treated as a rocket or a race car), this follow-up introduces a little pig holding a long, forked object. An unenlightened voice offstage suggests, "Hey, be careful with that stick." The pig corrects the false impression ("It's not a stick") and demonstrates the item's many uses. Portis traces pig and plaything in a heavy black line on negative space, then superimposes jaunty blue line drawings that act as overlays to reveal the pig's imaginings. The pig stands astride the stick, and a rearing horse shape appears. The pig holds the stick at its midpoint and it becomes a paintbrush, aiming toward Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night. Where the offstage warnings appear in white italics on a gray ground, implying a drab rejection of fantasy ("Watch where you point that stick"), the pig's statements are printed against a deep and dreamy blue. Portis repeats her previous formula down to the conclusion, where the pig calls the DIY toy "my Not-a-Stick!," once again appealing to those who think outside the box. Ages up to 6. (Jan.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken and Sylvia Marantz
Using the same creative thinking as she did in Not a Box, Portis presents an anthropomorphic pig armed only with a stick that is not just a stick, although we see him take it broken off a tree. The pig holds it in various poses as he warns us on double pages to "be careful with that stick," or to look where we are going with it, or to watch where we are pointing it, for it is so much more than a stick. On alternate double pages, using the same poses, he visually demonstrates what it really might be, from fishing pole and paintbrush, to spear or sword. Thick black lines on white on one side of a double page depict the first view of the pig with the stick opposite a light brown page with white text. Thick blue lines are added to the picture of the imaginative pig on a tan background opposite the white text on darker blue for the second view. The illustrations become more complex at the end, with the pig insisting, "This is NOT NOT NOT a stick!" He concludes by battling a dragon and leading it off on a leash at the end. An inspiration for those who want to move outside the box or beyond the stick. Reviewer: Ken and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Portis follows up on her successful Not a Box (HarperCollins, 2007) with equally pleasing results. Young listeners will be treated to the imaginative world of a charmingly minimalist pig who appears to be holding an ordinary stick. Following each admonition, "Hey, be careful with that stick," the youngster insists on the following spread that "it's not a stick." Its true nature is then dramatically revealed through clever illustrations. Morphing from a fishing pole to a drum major's baton, a paintbrush, a barbell, a horse, a spear, and finally to a sword, this "Not-a-stick" is clearly a powerful key to other worlds. Portis's simple color palette and playful drawings with never a line out of place represent the best in children's illustration. Perfect for sharing aloud, Not a Stick will inspire youngsters to look for the magic in ordinary objects.
Jayne DamronCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.