November 12, 2012

I'm Bored

Written by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
40 pp.
Ages 3-8

Without Canadian illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi to bring American comic Michael Black's text to life, I'm Bored would be so lifeless.  Really.  The illustrations take the simple text, of a little girl complaining about being bored and then trying to prove to a potato that kids aren't boring, from the stark to the sublime.

Debbie Ridpath Ohi's drawings may be created from few pen strokes but what expression in those strokes!  With a mere six details (two eyes, two brows, one nose, and one mouth), the illustrator can take the young child in I'm Bored from despondency to frustration, surprise, delight, determination, exaltation and indignation, all in the cause of convincing the equally-expressionistic spud that kids are amazing.  The little brown tuber may have few lines, "Boring" being repeated 19 times, but he does pay attention, almost hopeful that the girl may prove worthy of his company.

And her imaginative play of being a famous ballerina, or a lion tamer, princess, pirate and monster, just to name a few roles, takes her bold and colourful self into imagined settings of rock concerts, rolling oceans, science labs, outer space, and mountain tops.  If that brown (and isn't that a boring colour?) potato can't see the wonder of a kid who can marvel at the antics she can put her body through in creative play, then he deserves to be bored.

Luckily, just as the 2011 Blue Spruce Award winner, My Think-A-Ma-Jink by Dave Whamond (Owlkids, 2009), reminds us that a child's imagination can take him or her anywhere, anytime, to do anything, with anyone, I'm Bored lets a little girl recollect that the cure for boredom is all within.  What does a spud know anyways?

If this book isn't enough, Debbie Ohi offers activities and print-ready templates of cards, posters, book plates, etc. based on the "I'm Bored" theme at  There are even a few snarky ones courtesy of the little potato.

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