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Ribbon Rescue

by Robert Munsch, Eugenie Fernandes, - illus.

Jillian DeLaronde, a young Mohawk from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal, inspired Robert Munsch when she attended one of his readings wearing a traditional Mohawk costume, a brand-new ribbon dress. The result is Ribbon Rescue, a colourful new picture book with illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes.

As in many of Munsch’s previous books, adults are scattered and silly, and a child steps in to sort out everything. In this case, various members of a wedding party come running down the road in front of Jillian’s house, yelling “I’m late, I’m lost! I’m late, I’m lost!” Each encounter ends with Jillian using ribbons from her dress to fix the problem (an untied shoe, an unwrapped present), until the only one not covered in ribbons is Jillian herself.

In this first collaboration between Munsch and Fernandes (The Tree that Grew to the Moon, The Long Wait), the illustrator holds her own. She conveys the motion of the story in memorable pictures such as the bride riding to church on a bicycle, her dress billowing behind her, ribbons streaming from her hair. Indeed, in most of the pictures, characters are moving into or out of the scene. As always, Fernandes’ illustrations complement the text with images that are both uncomplicated and engaging. Using her trademark bright summer colours, she draws the eye first to the primary action on the page, then slowly outward to the flowers, birds, and other curious details that provide the backdrop.

Not surprisingly, Ribbon Rescue features repetition in the text and a tendency to sound better when read aloud. While many adults might wish Munsch would deviate from his familiar style, this book will undoubtedly win over its intended audience – young children – because of Munsch’s uncanny ability to sense where his readers want to go and his willingness to take them there.