Chloe, written and illustrated by Peter McCarty
I fell in love with Peter McCarty's picture books when Hondo and Fabian won the Caldecott Honor in 2003 and since I've never properly reviewed one of his books here, you get to hear about all of them before I discuss his newest book, Chloe. Hondo and Fabian is McCarty's story of an amiable pair of pets and the way their day diverges and converges. His expressive, soft-edged depictions of the everyday are simple and sweet and never fail to remind me of the good things in life. I was happy to see my old friends again in 2007 when Fabian Escapes came out. Then, in 2009 the fantastically super story time book Jeremy Draws a Monster was published. Lonely in his room, Jeremy draws a monster for company but things don't go as he planned. By the end of the book, Jeremy has drawn the monster a bus and a bus ticket out of town while making some new (human) friends. Earlier this year, Jeremy and his creation came back in The Monster Returns! And, just in time for Valentine's Day 2010, Henry in Love was published and we got our first glimpse of Chloe. Now Chloe gets her own book and what a wonderful book it is!
McCarty's story is a simple one, but, very much like Hondo and Fabian, Chloe is a superb paean to the joys of family and home life. Chloe has a father and a mother and ten older brothers and sisters and ten younger brothers and sisters and she loves her family very much!
Chloe "loved the end if the day, when her whole family was together. She called it family fun time." Watch the delightful book trailer below for scenes of the lovely crowded house and bunnies on a trampoline. However, one day Father arrives home with a box that threatens to alter the fabric of family fun time - a new television. After dinner, the family gathers around the television to watch a big blue monster named "Pound Cake" and shaped like a slice of bread attacking the city. McCarty is brilliant when it comes to monsters and I am happy that he squeezed one into this otherwise peaceful story. Chloe and her little sister Bridget cross their arms over their chests and sit behind the couch, missing all the action on the television and missing the usual action of family fun time even more. Chloe and Bridget stomp off to find their own fun with the box and bubble wrap that the television came in. Soon all the siblings want to play with the bubble wrap and Chloe and Bridget climb into the box and put on their own television show.
Bedtime arrives too soon, but Chloe is happy to fall asleep "with her sisters snuggled around her." The best page of the book comes at the end. The text reads, "And even in her dreams, she could hear the sound of popping bubbles." The illustration shows a house full of sleeping bunnies and Father bunny downstairs playing with the bubble wrap. As with all great picture books, McCarty shows, not tells, his story and his harmonious illustrations show the story in a way that words sometimes can't.
More fantastic books from Peter McCarty!