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FICTION

Wait

illus. by Antoinette Portis. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781596439214.
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RedReviewStarPreS-K—The conflicting agendas of a mother and preschooler play out in this classic scenario depicting a leisurely/rushed walk to the bus. Two of only three words employed in the text form a call-and-response pattern. Naturally it is the adult who admonishes, "Hurry!" The protagonist wants to greet a friendly dog, wave to the cement truck worker, and feed the ducks in the park. Portis's signature black outlines surrounding the people, creatures, and objects offer a pleasing clarity that contrasts with the softer, more amorphous backgrounds. Rendered in charcoal, ink, and pencil, with digital coloring, these scenes provide ample opportunity to follow the boy's lead, pausing to notice details, count things, and discuss colors, shapes, and signs. There is much to notice, such as the ladybug perched on the title page's "t"—drawing attention to the titular word itself. The insect or a replica of its form appears in surprising spots as the book progresses, as do other visual threads. One delightful scene places readers inside a tropical fish shop peering through an aquarium; the view aligns a fish's eye with the boy's. Pacing varies, controlled by perspective and the number of pages between words. After the mother exclaims, "Hurry!" three times in a row, as showers fall, the pair reach the bus. The imploring child gets the "Yes. Wait." he has longed for, however, when his parent notices the double rainbow.
VERDICT Portis has a gift for creating rich visual narratives for young children; this one will resonate with their caretakers, too.

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