Mine! by S. Crum
Crum, Shutta. Mine! Illus. Patrice Barton. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Print.
The dust jacket notes for Mine! tells us that it is about “two very young children and an adorable dog navigating the trials and triumphs of sharing.” In keeping with this theme, apart from a single “Woof?” barked by the dog, the only text is the word “mine” repeated ten times. However, when the pictures are left to tell the story, the text is really superfluous. Artist Patrice Barton has captured the chaos that happens when you put a baby, a toddler, a pile of toys, a dog, and a dog dish full of water all together in the same space without parental interference. The result is soaked children, water and wet toys thrown everywhere, and of course, a dripping dog. Children will love trying to find where all the different toys have gone from picture to picture.
While the images are done in soft pastels, rather than the bright and bold colours we might expect to find in books for very young children, they are nonetheless engaging. Throughout, Barton manages to communicate movement in the images. Swoosh lines follow flying feet, jiggle lines show us the baby’s unsteady movement, and dashed lines show us where the balls or toys have flown or bounced. Over the course of the chaos, there is a delightful four page sequence where the baby stands up, totters across two pages and, overleaf, takes a flying leap, flattening the toddler, and sending the wet toys flying everywhere. That, of course, is the point where the adults reappear and begin picking up wet children and clothing.
Because of all the wet and wild action in the book, the theme of sharing, or rather, not sharing, gets lost. So as a book with a message, Mine! does not work particularly well. However, both children and parents will enjoy the entertaining picture story.
Recommendation: 3 stars out of 4
Reviewer: Sandy Campbell
Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines. Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.