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Augustine
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About the Author

Melanie Watt is an acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. Her books include the Scaredy Squirrel, Chester and Learning With Animals series, Augustine, Leon the Chameleon and Have I Got a Book for You! She lives near Montreal.

Melanie Watt is an acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. Her books include the Scaredy Squirrel, Chester and Learning With Animals series, Augustine, Leon the Chameleon and Have I Got a Book for You! She lives near Montreal.

Reviews

Gr 2 Up-Augustine is a South Pole penguin whose family is relocating to the North Pole. Named after Pierre-Auguste Renoir, she loves to draw. She is apparently inspired by Magritte, Monet, Munch, Picasso, and Renoir, and the book is illustrated with snippets of her interpretations of their work. While the little bird and her family seem to enjoy their new home, Augustine is shy in school and worries about making friends. But her artwork breaks the ice, and she comfortably adjusts to her new environment. This is a useful attempt to introduce children to art and to dealing with changes in their lives, but there might be a bit too much going on here. The acrylic-and-pencil artwork is naturally childlike, an effective touch. However, penguins do not live in the North Pole, so even though this fictional introduction to art is somewhat well done, the basis of the story is unsettling. Overall, this picture book may be too ambitious.-Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Readers will hop on board for this polar tale, which also serves as a subtle art history introduction. Artistic Augustine, an adorable, blue fuzz-covered penguin (named after Pierre-Auguste Renoir), must leave the South Pole when her father gets a new job at the North Pole. Her straightforward first-person account of the move reflects her mixed emotions. "I'm going to miss my room.... When it's time to say good-bye, I feel sad." In a format that invites lingering, the left side of each spread contains nine vignettes, separated into box-like panels, relating to the action on the facing page. The center of the grid always features one of Augustine's drawings, a penguin-esque take-off of a famous painting. For example, when Augustine gets "cold feet" about attending a new school, she draws a penguin mimicking Edvard Munch's The Scream. In another spread, portraits of her Arctic classmates frame one that Augustine sketched of her new teacher, a long-eared, coyly smiling rabbit (? la the Mona Lisa). Plays on words frequently punctuate the narrative. For instance, the heroine calls a lonely time on the playground, drawing with only her blue pencil, her "Blue Recess Period." Watt's (Scaredy Squirrel) pencil crayon and acrylic illustrations will likely win over young audiences, while her clever art references may well engage older readers (she lists all the masterpieces from which Augustine draws inspiration at the end). Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Beautifully designed, Augustine, is an absolutely wonderful picture book ... this classic story of a family's move becomes original and witty ... Best of all, this picture book's depth will foster many conversations and inspire that most meaningful, dynamic relationship between book, adult and child.--Canadian Children's Book News
Watt's pencil crayon and acrylic illustrations will likely win over young audiences, while her clever art references may well engage older readers.--Publishers Weekly
While the Technicolor-bright drawings and the lessons of the importance of self-expression will tickle the kiddies, adults can dig the many cold-related puns littered throughout the book and Augustine's take on the classics ... Before parents know it, their kids will be hankering for the real thing.--Quill and Quire

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