You won’t ever see an art note quite like the one in Rowboat Watkins’ delicious new picture book Most Marshmallows: “The pictures were built out of marshmallows, construction paper, cake sprinkles, cardboard, acorn tops, twisty ties, pencil and whatever else was needed.”
If you’ve ever wondered what life as a marshmallow is like, you’re in luck. It’s a lot like a human life, with the exception of things like birthday parties, and the days of most marshmallows are fairly rote. Marshmallows head to school—where they learn to be “squishy”—and then return to their marshmallow families, where they all have dinner together, sleep at night and “dream about nothing.” And repeat.
For the book’s picture, Watkins draws intricate faces and even clothing onto real marshmallows, and he builds the colorful world around them in remarkably inventive, highly textured mixed media illustrations. To see marshmallows with backpacks board a bus, and to read about the details of their daily lives, is utterly delightful. Expect peals of laughter from young readers.
But Watkins takes the silly story a step further by reminding readers that most doesn’t mean all. Some marshmallows “secretly know that all marshmallows can do anything,” he writes. And in six magnificent closing spreads, Watkins shows us the big aspirations of those marshmallows who dare to dream. Despite the key fact that marshmallows learn in school (in a morbidly funny spread involving a blackboard) that “fire is only for dragons,” we see a marshmallow knight with a thimble for a hat not only fight a dragon but breathe fire on the creature. Take that, marshmallow detractors. Watkins closes Most Marshmallows with two empowering words for you to discover for yourself when you pick up a copy of this thoroughly original story.
Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.