There’s a lot to love about this vibrantly produced and character filled vocabulary builder. We follow Little Mouse through a range of different spread and scenes designed to increase vocabulary in a variety of contexts: colours, seasons, body parts, vegetables, weather and many more.
Anna Kövecses artwork is rich and stimulating. There’s a retro tone to it, creams coupled with characters that look like they’ve been cut out and stuck in. There’s hints of decoupage but also those vibrant moments of imaginative expression where a triangle becomes a boat sail or a rectangle becomes a nose. I welcome also Kövecses’ usage of diverse characters and settings and would have welcomed more of these spreads. There is a truth in reflecting the world in a book like this.
Certain of the spreads jarred a little for me; there’s a shift in perspectives from straight on through to top down on some spreads that took me a moment or two to figure out, and in other spreads,the labelling text for the element doesn’t fit quite onto the element itself. I’m thinking in particular of the ‘vegetables’ and the ‘what can you do outside’ spread in particular for these two examples. These moments diverted me from the intense poetry and fluidity of these pages and whilst I’m intensely conscious of the fact that such a response is couched in my personal context, I’m conscious that books like this develop vocabulary but also visual literacies. And in a book that is as genuinely beautiful and rich as this, it’s hard for me to ignore such stutters. I’d have also welcomed some utilisation of the endpapers; exploiting areas like these help children to develop their literacies around the book and the space of the book itself.
I am picky about One Thousand Things for one very simple reason. It is something that is really rather good, vividly unique and evocative, and I can see the space where it can fly into something quite shatteringly brilliant.