Sebastian’s Roller Skates
Sebastian may have a couple of spills as he learns to roller skate, but this tale from a Spanish team never takes a misstep. The young hero’s shyness stops him from saying all he wants to, and from approaching his schoolmate Ester (she “had curly hair and eyes the color of honey”). A pair of roller skates he finds in a park fascinates him, and as Sebastian masters this new skill, he also finds the courage to say more. Rovira’s confident caricature-style human figures all share the same wide-open eyes and stubby, squared-off noses; by contrast, he distinguishes objects in minute details, with addresses lettered on packing boxes and bulletin boards crowded with drawings and announcements. The artist has great fun rendering the story of Sebastian’s interior life, gluing a dense trail of dreary black-and-white newspaper scraps above Sebastian’s head to signal his trapped thoughts in the opening scenes, then scattering brilliantly colored scraps and photographs as the boy brims with opinions he says aloud: “And this time I don’t want my head to look like a billiard ball!” he tells the barber. He even invites Ester to go skating. Sebastian’s transformation emerges naturally, rather than from methods or techniques. He discovers the skates, practices hard and persistently, and his new abilities unfold on their own. Shy readers may well emerge with the feeling that change is indeed possible. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
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