By Publishers Weekly
In her insightful narrative and handsome cut-paper-and-collage artwork, Falwell (WORD WIZARD;THE LETTER JESTERs) subtly conveys the importance of both teamwork and independence. In the opening spreads, she shows David hanging back from the other kids on a snowy day. But when he begins to sketch a bare-limbed tree he’d spotted on the way to school, his classmates notice. “Nice tree,” says Amanda, adding, “But it needs color.” David obliges with sonic brown crayon bark and, with his shy approval, Amanda herself scribbles in green grass. Jamal offers some “cool stickers” and Laurel draws in a ballerina modeled on herself. In all, nine children contribute to the drawing, with each addition cumulatively charted by Falwell in a boxed vignette off to the side. What was once a study of wintry solitude now looks downright springlike – and the experience causes David to blossom as well. Amanda invites him to play at recess, and when he returns to the classroom, he labels the drawing “Our Class Picture.” But what’s noteworthy here is that Falwell takes her parable one step further: back at home, David recreates his original, elegantly austere tree, titles it “My Drawing” and proudly hangs it over his bed. Falwell makes it clear that David is better off for connecting to his peers, but also shows that his artistic integrity is equally important.