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9781554536498_cover Enlarge Cover
5 of 5
2 ratings
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list price: $18.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
published: March 2012
ISBN:9781554536498
publisher: Kids Can Press

Virginia Wolf

by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

reviews: 2
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siblings, imagination & play
5 of 5
2 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $18.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
published: March 2012
ISBN:9781554536498
publisher: Kids Can Press
Description

Vanessa's sister, Virginia, is in a “wolfish” mood --- growling, howling and acting very strange. It's a funk so fierce, the whole household feels topsy-turvy. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work. Then Virginia tells Vanessa about an imaginary, perfect place called Bloomsberry. Armed with an idea, Vanessa begins to paint Bloomsberry on the bedroom walls, transforming them into a beautiful garden complete with a ladder and swing “so that what was down could climb up.” Before long, Virginia, too, has picked up a brush and undergoes a surprising transformation of her own. Loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolf is an uplifting story for readers of all ages.

About the Authors

Kyo Maclear is the author of many books for children, including Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and some for adults. When she was a little girl, she wanted very badly to be a fashion designer. She spent countless hours drawing odd dresses, including a very special cloud dress. Her style muses include her mother, Patti Smith, the residents of Moominvalley, and anyone with a sense of casual and androgynous flair. Though she loved writing about Schiaparelli’s signature color, shocking pink, Kyo’s own favorite color is blue. She plants her garden with flowers in all shades of blue, and in spring when they bloom, it’s a blue extravaganza. Kyo makes her home in Toronto, where she lives with her two sons and husband, a musician. You can find her at www.kyomaclearkids.com.

 

Author profile page >

Kyo Maclear is the author of many books for children, including Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and some for adults. When she was a little girl, she wanted very badly to be a fashion designer. She spent countless hours drawing odd dresses, including a very special cloud dress. Her style muses include her mother, Patti Smith, the residents of Moominvalley, and anyone with a sense of casual and androgynous flair. Though she loved writing about Schiaparelli’s signature color, shocking pink, Kyo’s own favorite color is blue. She plants her garden with flowers in all shades of blue, and in spring when they bloom, it’s a blue extravaganza. Kyo makes her home in Toronto, where she lives with her two sons and husband, a musician. You can find her at www.kyomaclearkids.com.

 

Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

Kyo Maclear is an award-winning writer and novelist. Her first book for children, Spork, has received a number of honors, including a 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award nomination. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Isabelle Arsenault has illustrated several children's books, including Spork, My Letter to the World and Other Poems and Mr. Gaugin's Heart. She has received many awards for her work, including the Governor General's Award for Illustration. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
4 to 8
Grade:
p to 3
Awards
  • Winner, IBBY Honour List Children's Books for 2014, Illustration, IBBY Canada
  • Winner, Digital Book Award, Best ebook---Fixed Format/Enhanced: Children , Digital Book World Conference
  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, Canadian Library Association
  • Short-listed, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
  • Winner, White Raven Award, International Youth Library
  • Winner, Outstanding International Book, USBBY
  • Commended, CCBC Choices, Cooperative Children's Book Center
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award, Children's Illustration, Canada Council for the Arts
  • Winner, Books of the Year, Quill & Quire
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Commended, Best Bets, Picture Books, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Picture Book Award, IBBY Canada
Editorial Reviews

... an ambitious story about girlish blues, sisterly differences and the healing power of art ...—The New York Times


Parents will enjoy sharing this book with their sometimes “wolfish? children.—School Library Journal, Starred Review


... plum for adults ... a level of literary and biographical resonance to the tale of sisterly love.—Horn Book


Knowledge of Virginia Woolf and her painter-sister Vanessa Bell is unnecessary; this works beautifully as a bad-day/bad-mood or animal-transformation tale, while readers who know actual depression will find it handled with tenderly forceful aplomb.—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review


Vanessa's act of love is recounted with grace and sensitivity in this remarkable collaboration.—Publisher's Weekly


... the book is ultimately a feel-good celebration of the power of the imagination and art to create perfect places in the world when none can be found.—Booklist

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Virginia Wolf

From the creative duo of Spork comes the imaginative tale of two sisters — one who is depressed and the other who will do whatever it takes to help her sister shake the blues. This story was inspired by British writer Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell. The real Virginia Woolf suffered through periods of depression her entire life.

The story opens with Vanessa explaining that her sister Virginia woke up in a wolfish mood. She doesn’t want Vanessa to paint her picture or to visit with any of her friends. As Maclear writes “The whole house sank. / Up became down. / Bright became dim. / Glad became gloom.” No matter what Vanessa does, she can’t pull Virginia out of her depressive state.

In a tender moment shared by the sisters, Virginia says that she might feel better if she was flying. When Vanessa asks where she would like to go, Virginia describes the perfect place — “a place with frosted cakes and beautiful flowers and excellent trees to climb...” — a place she calls Bloomsberry.

While Virginia sleeps, Vanessa comes up with a plan that she hopes will help her ailing sister. She grabs her art supplies and decides to paint Bloomsberry. Up until this moment, Arsenault’s colour palette is primarily black, grey and white with touches of red, yellow and blue. However, when Vanessa begins to paint Bloomsberry, the pages explode in colour. The effect is similar to the moment when Dorothy opens the door to reveal Munchkinland in all its Technicolor glory in the film version of The Wizard of Oz. When Virginia awakes from her sleep, she takes notice of Vanessa’s efforts and joins in helping to create Bloomsberry. At this moment “The whole house lifted. / Down became up. / Dim became bright. / Gloom became glad.”

Throughout the story, Arsenault paints Virginia as a dark silhouette of a wolf. At the end, when Virginia has recovered, the illustrator provides a visual surprise for readers.

This gentle story, hand lettered by the illustrator herself and with artwork rendered in mixed media that was digitally assembled, will introduce young readers to the topic of depression in a sensitive manner. Arsenault’s exquisite artwork is perfectly paired with Maclear’s emotionally powerful text.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2012. Volume 35 No. 2.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Virginia Wolf

One day Virginia wakes up in a wolfish mood, and when her sister Vanessa tries to cheer her up, nothing works — not even making funny faces at their brother. Finally Vanessa decides to bring the outside inside by painting trees, strange candy blossoms, green shoots and frosted cakes on the walls of their room. This is a tale that looks at depression and celebrates the transformative power of art.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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