Tuesday 3 January 2023

Not Me,

Not Me, Elise Gravel, (Scholastic) HB RRP $19.99   9781761209185

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Elsie Gravel is an author and illustrator of many picture books and graphic novels both in English and French. She actively promotes empathy, tolerance, respect, and diversity.

When Dad asks who left the socks everywhere a brother and sister both insist it was ‘Not me.’ Dad thinks both kids are fibbing and is not sure who it is. During the story he is introduced to the monsters Not Me, Not True and Not Fair. The monsters personify typical child responses. Who is the real sock bandit? Dad can always give them all get time out if he can’t find out. The themes of blaming others and excuse making brilliantly play the humour.

Elise Gravel has created a humour-driven story about something that’s in every house – socks. Huh? I didn’t leave any dirty socks anywhere. Using few words and a question answer format, the humour delights, and mimics real life child responses. Okay, so NO ONE left their dirty socks on the floor? Somebody is not telling the truth. The language creates laugh out loud moments as Gravel takes the reader on a journey to meet Not True, Not Me and Not Fair. The text allows plenty of room for the illustrations to work their magic. In less than a few hundred words the text delivers a fun story line with characters that are both cheeky and child friendly. The ending ties the whole story together perfectly.

The illustrations begin with an eye-catching cover. The character Not Me is a bright red monster with big round eyes and socks are scattered around. The title sits neatly inside Not Me. The endpapers have lots of different socks on a pale blue background. The double page spreads allow for speech bubbles to brilliantly tell the story. The sparse text allows room for the illustrations to deliver lots of the story. By placing the names of the monsters on their bodies it cleverly allows them to speak indirectly. The simplistic cartoon like drawings and pale colour choice backgrounds allow the focus of the story to be directly upon the characters and what they are saying. This really brings the humour into the spotlight.

Not Me is a super fun read for children 2 years and up. It is sure to keep younger readers engaged and gives them plenty of opportunities to join in with the story. This is a book that will appeal to both adults and children with its brilliant portrayal of real-life moments.

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