November 12, 2015


Ollie’s Valentine. By Olivier Dunrea. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $6.99.

Harry Potter Coloring Book. Scholastic. $13.99.

     Take well-known series and move them into new areas and you have what are called “line extensions,” items (books in this case) that clearly belong with others using the same characters and topics but that are different enough to take fans in directions in which they have not yet gone. This is not a simple matter in the “gosling” books by Olivier Dunrea – the short books about various adorable goslings do not seem to have anywhere new to go, although Dunrea has previously enlarged the series by simply introducing new characters. However, Ollie’s Valentine does find a way to do something different from what Dunrea does with most other books about the goslings’ simple, endearing adventures. This board book has little Ollie finding out that all his friends have brightly colored foil valentines – the illustrations of the hearts are especially enjoyable – but he does not. He wants one for his own, but everyone carrying a valentine has just received it from someone else: Gossie from Gertie, Gertie from BooBoo, BooBoo from Peedie, Peedie from Gideon. Everyone, it seems, is someone’s valentine, except for poor Ollie. But fear not! Dunrea comes up with a clever conclusion that makes perfect sense in the context of these stories and that directly involves the reader (or pre-reader, if an adult is reading Ollie’s Valentine to a very young child) in making Ollie’s wish come true and making him happy. The way the book ends ties up the slight tale very neatly, and it is easy to imagine very young children getting to the conclusion, looking up at the adult reading to them, and happily saying, “Again!”

     Older kids – and even some adults – looking again to immerse themselves in the world of Harry Potter now have their own way of getting directly involved in the story. The Harry Potter Coloring Book is just what it says: a series of black-and-white pages showing scenes from Harry’s world and designed to be colored by artists of any age. These are not drawings from Scholastic’s recent and excellent pictorial edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, illustrated by Jim Kay. Nor are the pages based on Mary GrandPré’s illustrations for Scholastic’s U.S. edition of J.K. Rowling’s novels. Instead, the pages are drawn from the eight films that brought Harry and his adventures to the screen – and 16 pages of stills from the films, appearing at the back of the book, provide guidance on the colors used by the filmmakers and also help artists remember the movies and all the amazement they generated in theaters. The line drawings in the book were actually used in the making of the films, so it is no surprise that some of the book’s scenes look familiar – but not all of them do, at least in their black-and-white versions. Part of the fun of this book, in addition to the enjoyment of the coloring, comes from trying to remember which movie each scene comes from and what exactly was happening at the time. There are action scenes here (winged keys flying, the Sorting Hat in use) along with portraits of characters (Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dobby, Hagrid, Voldemort) and views of important objects (the Golden Snitch, coats of arms of the competing Hogwarts Houses, wands, even the Weasley brothers’ “Compendium Box of Pyrotechtrix”). Just leafing through the book should be enough to jog the memory of Rowling’s readers and those who enjoyed the films. And while the stills from the movies can be used to provide guidance regarding how the filmmakers saw various characters and elements of Harry’s world, they can also be used to come up with different ways to portray the same things shown on screen. After all, who says the poster advertising the 422nd Quidditch World Cup has to be colored just as it was at the movies?

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