Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 7
- Grade: p to 2
- Reading age: 3 to 7
When you're a little bit spoon and little bit fork, where do you go when the table is set? A funny “multi-cutlery” tale for everyone who has ever wondered about their place in the world.
Spork is neither spoon nor fork but, rather, a bit of both. His (spoon) mother and (fork) father think he's perfect just the way he is. Only, Spork stands out. All the other cutlery belongs with those like themselves, and they all have a specific purpose. Spork tries fitting in with the spoons, and then with the forks, but he isn't quite enough like either. Instead, he watches from the drawer at dinnertime as the others get to play with the food and then enjoy a nice warm bath in the sink. But one morning, a “messy thing” arrives. A thing that has obviously never heard of cutlery customs or table manners. Will Spork finally find his place at the table?
In this unconventional celebration of individuality, Kyo Maclear has created a humorous “multi-cutlery” tale for everyone who has ever wondered about their place in the world. The mixed-media artwork by award-winning illustrator Isabelle Arsenault is high-spirited and quirky, providing just the right level of mixed-up-ness to the scenes. Children will appreciate the fun take on the inner lives of cutlery. This picture book is perfect for discussions of individuality and acceptance. But most important, it offers a hopeful and positive message that all of us belong and have a purpose.
About the authors
KYO MACLEAR was born in London and grew up in Toronto as the only child of a foreign correspondent. Her father reported on some significant world events, including recording the first interviews with American POWs in North Vietnam. While Stray Love is entirely a work of fiction, it is informed by her experiences living with her father. Her first novel, The Letter Opener (2007), was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artists Award and shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Maclear is also an award-winning visual arts writer and the author of two children’s books: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012). Visit her online at www.kyomaclear.ca.
Isabelle Arsenault is a very talented Quebec illustrator who has won an impressive number of awards and has achieved international recognition. She has illustrated Migrant by Maxine Trottier, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book and a finalist for the Governor General’s Award; Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, winner of the Governor General’s Award; Le coeur de monsieur Gauguin by Marie-Danielle Croteau, winner of the Governor General’s Award; and My Letter to the World and Other Poems by Emily Dickinson, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. She has also illustrated Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean Pendziwol and Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt, forthcoming from Groundwood. Isabelle has won the Grand Prix for illustration (Magazines du Québec) for six years running. She lives with her family in Montreal.
- Winner, Three Communities One Story, Libraries of Peel Region
- Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre
- Winner, Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street Children's Book Committee
- Winner, Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, IBBY
- Short-listed, Horace Mann Upstanders Book Award
... her message of acceptance will resonate, particularly with parents.
Arsenault's expressive drawings of an un-happy spork are instantly winning.
The New York Times
While some picture-book tales have difficulty promoting the 'different can be good' message without slipping into deep didactism, Maclear's text feels nearly effortless. The inanimate-object identification also pairs brilliantly with Arsenault's melding of mixed media and digital art.
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
... the lighthearted storytelling and whimsical mixed-media illustrations will draw readers in, and adults will find the book to be a useful conversation starter for the topics of race, difference, and acceptance.
School Library Journal
It's a story that could wilt under the weight of moral high-mindedness, but the graceful voice of Maclear, making her children's book debut, keeps it light and entertaining.
SporkSpork sticks out. The product of an intercutlery marriage, Spork is a little bit spoonish and a little bit forkish, but not enough of either. He is tired of being asked, “What are you anyway?” And he’s especially tired of never being set for the table. When he decides to try being a single thing, the forks don’t like it when he looks too round, and the spoons don’t like it when he looks too pointy. What is he going to do? Then one day, a Messy Thing arrives, something that smears, spills and flings “without a care.” All the forks and spoons are at a loss as to what to do for the Messy Thing. But Spork knows exactly what is needed!
This is an endearing story with an appealing and sympathetic character in Spork. The language is simple and engaging, making the story a fun read-aloud. Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are rendered in mixed media, their colours soft and earth-toned, and with a silvery finish as though the reader is spending time in a kitchen or cutlery drawer. Not only are the illustrations whimsical, but Spork and the others are expressive in their emotions. When Spork wonders about other creatures with “no matching kind,” children will love trying to identify such Arsenault imaginings as a teapot with a knife blade instead of a spout and a rolling pin attached to a corkscrew. What other combinations might children imagine?
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2010. Volume 33 No. 4.
SporkSpork is neither a spoon nor a fork. He tries to be more spoonish, but the forks think he’s too round. He tries to be more forkish, but the spoons think he’s too pointy. Finally a messy thing arrives, and Spork finds his place at the table. This humorous “multi-cutlery” tale is a charming story for anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.