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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Precious Little

by Julie Hunt

I'm surprised no one else has reviewed a picture book yet. I can't be the only one following the new publications of children's books, right?

'Take the Hope or the Dream or the Song or the Dance.
You might choose the Joke. You might take the Chance.
Take the Risk or the Scare or the Stunt or the Rip.
What prize will you pick from today's lucky dip?'

Precious Little is a circus hand who wishes to be a trapeze artists. She usually sits "backstage" and sews spangled stars and roses on the leotards. She takes the circus's famous Lucky Dip - and it appears that she is shot off into the universe. It's hard to tell.

The summary calls it a " heart-stirring story about the rewards of perseverance, friendship and taking a chance." I saw no such thing while reading. I must make clear that this is not a children's book, by no means. This is certainly a young adult to adult book, cleverly disguised beneath fanciful illustrations. Precious Little is one of those rare profound books that have no ending - it's one of those books that one sits, slightly stunned, trying to think of what they just read.
Heart-stirring? Certainly. Perhaps not. Who knows.
Rewards? Not really.
Perseverance? Friendship? Taking a chance? Well, Precious Little is friends with two clowns (Fat Chance and Tough Luck) that shoot her in a cannon. If that's not Friendship and Taking a chance, I'm not sure what is.

The illustrations are perfectly gorgeous, almost baroque. They ride the line between delicate, childish, and creepy. There are embellishments and flourishes that perfectly suit the circus. In other words, I believe Gaye Chapman was the perfect illustrator.

I think the best word(s) to describe this book is whimsical and, perhaps ruminative.
I give this book a 4 in terms of books, but a 2.5 in terms of children's books. It's like dark chocolate - children will grab it based on it's appearance, and bite, and it won't be what they expected, and they won't like it. However, older people can fully enjoy this book - although, often times they'll not attempt this book because of the option of cheaper alternatives.

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