The Read Balloon: Virginia Woolf for Little Wolves

Virginia Wolf, written by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, just especially for me. Wasn’t that nice of them?

I fell in love with this book the moment I saw its title: Virginia Wolf. Never before has a picture book seemed so obviously created specifically for me. I had this crazy friend in high school who did too many drugs and, worse, read too much philosophy and became convinced that the he was the only person who was actually real, and that the world he knew was an elaborately designed set (this preceded The Matrix, mind you), and every once in a while something would happened that, due to some strange serendipity, would seem to him to be proof that this was so. Anyway, I thought of him, the dear fruitcake, when I happened upon this book in the library – I actually looked around, like, really? This book is happening to me? I love Virginia Woolf. No, like, LOVE love. I love the Bloomsbury Group, the art, the thinkers, its shocking sexy-bookishness back when that had the ability to shock, all of it.  I love pretty picture books with extravagantly colorful illustrations, particularly if they concern strange little girls, especially siblings. Hello, book! Thank you for existing!

This book is a loose interpretation of the relationship between Virginia Woolf, grumpy writer, and her sister, Vanessa Bell, painter and proponent of the everything-beautiful life way before Pinterest. So I would probably like it anyway, but I am particularly charmed by the poetic text – I love kids’ books that don’t talk down to kids – and its portrait of sisterhood, and the idea that connecting with things that make you happy can lift you out of a wolfish funk. (And I’m so pleased and not at all surprised to see that this beautiful book has just won some fancy-shmancy Canadian literary award.)

That said, I couldn’t really get Harper to comment on this book. She very much enjoyed the trick of Virginia’s wolfish ears transforming into a point hair bow (we all have those days), but other than that I have to admit she wasn’t as in love with the book as I was. When pressed, she said only, “She says too many mean things.” So I said, “Honey, you don’t have to be nice and happy all the time just because you’re a girl, you know. It’s okay to have wolfish feelings, to need help dealing with them.” JK, I sighed and said, “Fine, you don’t have to help me write my blog post. We can play with Photo Booth instead.”

But the book is, in truth, not only more fun than playing with Photo Booth, it’s also led me to the other works of Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault. Don’t you love that buzzy feeling when you’ve discovered some new (to you) artists?

Here, a lovely book trailer that doubles as some good advice for wolfish moods.

6 responses to “The Read Balloon: Virginia Woolf for Little Wolves

  1. Pingback: Woolf sightings: Why women need a variety of rooms of their own « Blogging Woolf

  2. Love this post. I added a link to it — and to the book trailer on Blogging Woolf. Thanks.

  3. Pingback: A charming trailer for a charming Wolfish children’s book « Blogging Woolf

  4. Pingback: Virginia Woolf | snapping twig

  5. Pingback: A Short List of Likes for Late January « indira ganesan

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