Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter
Written and Illustrated by Anna Alter

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0375866845
Buy This Book on Amazon

Desmond is a cat who prefers not to be noticed. He blends in with his surroundings wherever he goes, until the day his new classmate Gloria arrives. Gloria is Desmond's social opposite--she loves to stand out and embraces attention. And unlike the others, she can always spot Desmond wherever he is hiding and consistently acknowledges him with a friendly "Hello, Desmond!" Slowly but surely her friendship brings Desmond away from his shy, wallflower tendencies and shows him the fun that can be had from interacting with those around him. Straightforward and easy to read, the story is pleasing from begining to end.

Anna Alter continues her lovely characteristic style of charming animals, pleasing color palettes, and playful patterns. Her world is warm with a comforting feeling of timeless universality.  The scenes are cute and clever and are just plain fun to look at. And while spotting Desmond is no hard task, it is enjoyable to see where and how he'll blend in next. Alter's animal characterization and use of materials is recognizable from book to book in a similar consistency as that of Rosemary Wells. Alter's illustrations are equally crisp, clean and smooth, with a smart simplicity that children will enjoy.

Disappearing Desmond visually explores the idea of shyness and the contradictory desire to both disappear and be noticed that many children can relate to. I for one was a shy child in school, never seeking or wanting the attention of others. But outgoing children like Gloria do exist and offer support and friendship to those who don't realize how much they need it. Once Desmond discovers the power of inclusion and friendship for himself, he is able to reach out to other bashful children who benefit from his initiative. This book is a sweet and original take on a universal concept with a positive message that is fun to read and look at---what more could you want in a picture book?


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