Antoinette Portis again captures the thrill of when pretend feels so real that it becomes real. With a stick in hand, the options are endless—whether it's conducting an orchestra, painting a masterpiece, or slaying a dragon—give a child a stick and let imagination take over and the magic begin.
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