STARRED REVIEW
July 2017

The art of self-creation

By Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge

Two blobs of clay (with eyes) sit on an artist’s bench. The gray one seems mischievous; the brown one looks a tad nervous. When the artist (or at least her hands) shows up, she bends and stretches and smooshes and scratches the blobs into a gray wolf and a brown owl. But that’s only the beginning.

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Two blobs of clay (with eyes) sit on an artist’s bench. The gray one seems mischievous; the brown one looks a tad nervous. When the artist (or at least her hands) shows up, she bends and stretches and smooshes and scratches the blobs into a gray wolf and a brown owl. But that’s only the beginning.

The wolf (true to its playful origins) isn’t satisfied with its chosen form and starts improvising, crafting crazy ears, funny hairstyles and dramatic eyelashes out of clay. The more cautious owl isn’t so sure—until it starts tentatively experimenting with its own clay and soon discovers the joy of reinvention. But what happens when all that creativity gets out of control? Perhaps the two clay creatures will go beyond being just “claymates” and prove they’re true friends.

The charming story in Claymates is told through humorous cartoon-style dialogue, hand-lettered in ink (matching the speaker’s clay color) on torn scraps of paper. The expressive characters, made only of clay and dolls’ eyes, come to life in memorable color photographs, which are remarkable for showing an artist’s studio and an artist at work, complete with all the tools of her trade. Parents be forewarned: You might want to purchase some modeling clay before giving your child this book. They’ll come away inspired and eager to create their own claymates.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Claymates

Claymates

By Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316303118

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