September 25, 2014

Any Questions?

by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books
60 pp.
Ages 6-9
September 2014

Of course you have questions.  Children are insatiable when it comes to asking about...everything! But when it comes to how someone does something, like write and illustrate a book, they seem to have even more questions, only knowing the quality of the finished product, never the steps involved.  And, how are they to attempt the same without some direction?  Fortunately, Marie-Louise Gay, creator of Stella and Sam, Caramba, and so many much-loved characters and books, shares everything!
"Marie-Louise Gay has scribbled, scrawled, sketched, doodled, penciled, collaged and painted the words and pictures of a story-within-a-story that might answer your questions about how brilliant ideas creep up on you when you least expect it and how words sometimes float out of nowhere asking to be written."                                                    (blurb on back cover)
See?  She tells everything! And I  everything about Any Questions?

From the dedication to those who ask the questions and those who try to answer them, to her self-portrait and inclusivity of every child anywhere, to the whimsy of her words and ideas floating from the heavens, to the story within, The Shy Young Giant, Any Questions? is splendid and resplendent in its colour, forms, text, fonts, joy, inquiry and artistry.  I love the overwhelming details in Marie-Louise Gay's illustrations: the birds flying from the giant's hair; the expressive children using mega-tools like brushes, pencils, paint and scissors; the forest animals and cat who accompany their efforts and comment seamlessly on all facets of the process; and the colours!–brilliant purples, oranges and greens and soft blues and mauves–that cannot be replicated anywhere but in Marie-Louise Gay's artwork.

Will I read this story to my students and little ones to share the joy of creative writing and illustration?  Will I watch their wonderstruck eyes and smile at their gaping mouths at the marvel that is Any Questions? Will I share every nuance of every illustration and let them find the distinctions that I missed?  Just as Marie-Louise Gay does, throughout the book and in an appendix of questions and answers, I certainly will!

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