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by Robin Mitchell and Judith Steedman


by Robin Mitchell and Judith Steedman

Using photographs of homemade dolls posed in scenes of a simple story, Vancouver graphic designers Robin Mitchell and Judith Steedman have begun a series of engaging books for preschoolers. The first, Windy, follows a little girl as she flies a kite, loses it, visits friends while searching for it, then finds it back at home. The gentle humour of the story and charm of the cut-paper collages make a well-integrated and satisfying book. The second, Sunny, shows a boy walking through the city, enjoying the sounds made by his friends at play “hopping, clattering marbles, swishing a pinwheel.” He begins making music with his friends by stamping, whistling, and shaking marbles in a tin can, and they all play joyously until it’s time for bed.

Each of the little stories includes a map tracing the character’s journey away from home and back again, and each ends with “goodnights,” which echo that toddler classic Goodnight Moon. As a series, the books promise continuity in characters and visual style, and variety in the low-key adventures. The figures, which look like clothespeg dolls, are simple but expressive, and the ingenuity of the photographed scenes invites fascinated inspection by small children and parents alike. The companion CD with Sunny is less appealing than the book: its 10 songs are mellow, but not particularly distinctive or memorable. The text is better enhanced by the inside-cover directions for home-made musical instruments; similarly, the inside covers of Windy feature instructions on making a kite.