Mrs Peachtree

Is there a job where I can get paid to read?

The Challenge Begins July 2, 2008

“…in third grade. My art teacher, Mr. B., failed me on an art project. I could not draw a perfectly symmetrical flower vase. “If you can’t draw a perfectly symmetrical flower vase,” Mr. B. said, “you’ll never learn to draw.” Discouraged, I gave up drawing for the next ten years.” This quotation, taken from the Groundwood Books website reminds me very much of the story of the Little Prince. Personally, I never would have guessed that anyone could have anything bad to say about Marie-Louise Gay’s artistic abilities since that is the part of her books that I like best! I would love to have pictures of the forest in Stella Fairy of the Forest to put on the wall close to my desk.

How do you become invisible? You think of invisible things, like wind or music. What do fairies look like? They’re tiny and beautiful and they fly very fast. Do butterflies eat butter? Yellow ones do. These are just some of the wisdoms that Stella imparts on her little brother Sam as they spend an afternoon in the fields and forest looking for fairies and building a fort out of ferns to protect them from the giant who is watering his rocks. Marie-Louise has perfectly captured the relationship between an older sister and younger brother in this and in her other Stella and Sam books. Stella loves to teach Sam about the world around them, Sam is always bursting with questions, and often with insights of his own (blue butterflies must eat pieces of sky).

I’m afraid I don’t know anything about illustration techniques but to me the illustrations look like they are done with ink, watercolours and maybe even some tissue paper. In any case, the beautiful illustrations are slightly ethereal and they lend a sort of dreamlike quality to the story. When I read this story I get the sensation of a really hot, breezy and sunny summer day spent outdoors exploring.

I would recommend this or any of Marie-Louise Gay’s other books to grownups and children alike.


6 Responses to “The Challenge Begins”

  1. John Mutford Says:

    I’ve seen a few of this series around but have wondered about any books not in the series– have you read any of those?

    By the way, I love that we have a picture book already added to the list. I didn’t realize Marie Louise Gay was Canadian.

  2. Mrs. Peachtree Says:

    Actually, I don’t think I have read any of her other stuff but I have read all the Stella and Sam books. I just can’t get over how gorgeous the illustrations are and how well she has captured the questions and responses that are part of young childrens’ worlds! I was really quite serious about wanting to frame some of her art and place it near my desk…so if anyone knows how I can get my hands on some…

  3. Jo-Ann Says:

    Stella and Sam books are a top fav of mine as well. I am very lucky to have a signed copy of Good Morning Sam. I don’t know where you can some of her art, but here is website where you can print a bookplate that she designed.

  4. Mrs. Peachtree Says:

    Jo-Ann, thanks for the bookplate link!

  5. Reflections Says:

    What a great site this is. I am a fan and simply love the way it looks.


  6. Wanda Says:

    “Moonbeam on a Cat’s Ear” was my first Marie Louise Gay book. It was a gift for my daughter but I didn’t much care for it. Skip ahead several years and two more children, and the “Stella and Sam” series are a favourite! If it is true that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, then it must also be said that you can’t judge an author by one book alone.

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