Lost for Words, written and illustrated by Natalie Russell (Peachtree Publishers, $16.95, Ages 4-8), is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey. Tapir has a lovely new notebook, and yearns to fill it with something marvelous. If only he could think of something to write! Staring at the page, he tries to come up with of something, anything! But his head is as empty as his page.
Anyone who has suffered writer’s block will identify with this cuddly tapir’s dilemma. And how cute is this Winnie the Pooh-shaped tapir as a main character? He turns to his friends for inspiration, and finds Giraffe writing poetry, Flamingo composing a song, and Hippo writing a story. Poor Tapir! He tries imitating their methods, chewing leaves, wallowing in mud, and humming with his eyes closed. Alas – the harder he tries, the grumpier he gets.
Russell’s illustrations are fun and engaging, using soft lines and gentle blue, green and yellow earthy pastel tones. She draws distinct, beautiful suns over panoramic Central American landscapes and smudges realistic muddy textures onto Hippo and Tapir. The colorful pages are bright and filled with simply sketched details like dragonflies and curly, twisty plant life.
Tapir wanders off by himself to think atop a quiet hill, and finds a creative solution to his blank notebook problem. Although the ending may come as no surprise to experienced picture book readers, it is sure to delight young listeners. This sweet, warmhearted story will win artists of all sorts who observe, appreciate and develop their own creative inspiration.
– Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey
Where obtained: I borrowed a copy from my public library. The opinions expressed here are my own.