Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: Annie Was Warned

Annie Was WarnedAnnie Was Warned by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.  Knopf, 2003

In all his books, Jarrett Krosoczka conveys a playful insight into children that is a rare and fine thing.  Anyone who has shared his books as read-alouds can attest to the response to them from young listeners.

His children look out from the page into the eyes of the child holding the book and recognition sparks there.  Krosoczka's "serious" bio on his website mentions that he worked summers at camps, including the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp,  for children dealing with illnesses and other serious life issues.  I understand something about that kind of work as a parent whose child has benefited from similar summer experiences.  Krosoczka has looked into the eyes of children who are facing challenging and profound hurdles in their lives. I think he saw something very elemental at the core of childhood there.  That understanding shines through his work.

His work touches on many aspects of the every day lives of children. A bad, self-inflicted haircut is the reason for Baghead. Class elections in Max for President and dreams of rock stardom echo in the Punk Farm tales.  Lunchtime, the heart and hub of every school day (for better or worse) is acknowledged in the exploits of The Lunch Lady who defends the cafeteria, the school and the students in the graphic novel series.

In Annie Was Warned, Annie's birthday is on Halloween.  She tests her nerve and courage by going to a creepy, haunted? house, on a dare, on Halloween night.  On the book cover, Annie peers around a door.  Her eyes are wide. Her face registers apprehension and fear but she IS moving forward, shining her flashlight into the eyes of the reader, dazzling us with the light and her bravery. Krosoczka's artistic technique, composition, color palette evoke the eeriness of the night and solitude of the child in the book's paintings.  There is a fun and happily-ever-after to reward her courage. 

Halloween clearly inspires his storytelling.  Admire his pumpkins photos on his blog, The JJK Blog.  Each photo could be the jumping off point for a tale or two.

1 comment:

BookMoot said...

How fun, the entniece just sent me a note that said, "The "Lunch Lady" is my favorite."