July 08, 2024

Jacinta's Orderly World

Written by Margaret Sullivan
Illustrated by Scot Ritchie 
Plumleaf Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
May 2024
We  all like to have our things where can find them. For some, like Jacinta, having routines and things in order makes all the difference to having her day so smoothly. But then she meets someone who does things a little differently and still makes it work for them.
From Jacinta's Orderly World, written by Margaret Sullivan, illus. by Scot Ritchie
Jacinta likes order in her life, whether it's how her socks are organized in a drawer or using an egg carton to house her 12 most special rocks. (She's also very good at repurposing objects.) That control over what she does and how she does it brings her contentment. But outside of her control, things are always different and sometimes difficult.
From Jacinta's Orderly World, written by Margaret Sullivan, illus. by Scot Ritchie
Jacinta finds it stressful when her grandmother comes over to babysit and throws off Jacinta's order. Doesn't Grandma Nancy know that the cereal and cookie boxes are organized according to the colour spectrum ROY G BIV? And what is she supposed to do with the new stuff Grandma Nancy brings that don't fit in to her organization scheme?
From Jacinta's Orderly World, written by Margaret Sullivan, illus. by Scot Ritchie
But a trip to Kenny's garage to pick up their car gives Jacinta a new perspective. Without knowing it, she finds the beauty of her order in the chaos outside of her home. Whether it's the rainbow she discovers in spilled oil or a tiny mouse that resides in Kenny's garage, Jacinta finds that she can appreciate that which initially seems disorganized.
Margaret Sullivan, a poet and writer from Salt Spring Island, shares her experiences of seeking comfort in organizing her room via Jacinta whose own quest for order gives her satisfaction. Growing up in a military family who often moved locations, Margaret Sullivan found stability in the organization of her own space. Most young children feel a lack of control in their lives, having their activities from eating to sleeping, learning and play dictated by the adults in their lives so for Jacinta to be able to exercise some level of authority over her surroundings is important.  But, while Margaret Sullivan could have made Jacinta an anxious child, she made her one who appreciates order but could see beyond that which appears disorganized. She gives us a character that is multi-dimensional, who knows what she likes and how to get it but is open to others who may want something different.
From Jacinta's Orderly World, written by Margaret Sullivan, illus. by Scot Ritchie
Scot Ritchie's illustrations depict both the order and the chaos effectively and with kindness. His art shows the complexity of colour in our lives but also that it's up to us how we live with all that colour. He makes sure we don't see Jacinta's life as anything less than full. She doesn't live in a world of black and white, or even grays. Her life has everything she needs and likes and she still is able to look beyond herself. Her openness to new experiences and to the needs of others demonstrates that the richness of her life reaches beyond herself.

I like Jacinta. She's a cool kid. I like how she organizes and repurposes objects and how she opens her heart. She could have closed herself off to protect herself from that which might disturb her but, from her grandmother and mishaps and meeting Kenny, Jacinta takes it all in stride to find a way to cope. In fact, she does better than cope. She finds a way to appreciate them all. Life can be jumbled but Jacinta shows us that there is a way to see within and beyond and give it an order that works for us.

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