A simple pen can do a lot. Christopher Myers shows us just that in his new book, a tribute to the imagination of children and the immense power of creativity.
A young boy sets the tone in the opening pages: He says that there are rich and famous people in the world who sometimes make him feel “small.” When their words are plastered everywhere, he feels insignificant, momentarily forgetting that he has his own voice: his pen. We know we’re in for the honest and vulnerable musings of a child.
On the very next spread, the boy notes, “My pen makes giants of old men who have seen better days.” Here is a drawing of a man who looks remarkably like Walter Dean Myers, the author’s father, a legend in children’s literature who passed away last year. If, like me, you’re still trying to get used to his absence, this spread will take your breath away.
The boy goes on to show where his sketchbook can take him: He can tap-dance on the sky, hide elephants in teacups and wear “satellite sneakers with computer laces.” His pen might worry about wars, but it exudes love. It might be simple, but it’s capable of grand adventures. It can even bolster the boy’s identity. “It draws me a new face every morning,” he writes.
Myers’ graceful pen-and-ink drawings are eloquent and expressive. The absence of color is a smart choice; it’s as if Myers leaves abundant room for young readers to fill in his or her own spaces.
This is a lively tribute to the wonders of expression.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.