What am I going to wear? The question that diverts us all is first presented in the toddler years when the mastery of getting dressed is a triumph and opinions about clothing are emphatic.
These four board books illustrated by collage-artist Marthe Jocelyn are a unique tribute to the colors, textures, and patterns that make clothes a child’s favorite pastime.
Ready for Summer displays a full wardrobe, introducing lovely words like turtleneck and galoshes, and allowing even the very young reader to be an expert on what should be worn next season.
About Marthe Jocelyn
When I was a child, I liked to read books about ordinary children who stumbled across enchantment. I really thought that if I looked hard enough, I might find a magic nickel or a secret room behind the bookcase or a gnarled gnome whom only I could see. As I grew older, I felt the same thrill of seeing mysteries unveiled when I went to the theatre or read a book. In my childhood activities, I played with dolls way past the normal age, made dioramas out of junk scraps, directed backyard plays with casts of neighborhood kids, and was always, always reading–only as an adult can I clearly see my pursuit of illusion.
When I was 14, I spent a year in a Quaker boarding school in England, encountering a world utterly different from my own, no magic necessary. I learned the advantage of being a stranger; I created a new character for myself, far from my family and not dependent on anyone’s preconceptions. This later fed my approach to fiction: My heroines are small part “me” and large part invention of who I’d like to be, or to have been.
My earliest chapter books (the Invisible trilogy) were about an ordinary child who stumbles across enchantment. My next several books were historical novels (Earthly Astonishments, Mable Riley, and How It Happened in Peach Hill), set in worlds utterly different from my own. It’s easy to see in retrospect that exploring alternate realities began as a game in childhood and eventually became a consuming pastime, otherwise known as research. I love doing research. I depend on what I learn not only for flavor and accuracy of details, but also for the occasional serendipitous discovery that alters the plot of a story.
But then we come to my most recent novel, Would You. It is a complete departure from any of my other stories, because its inception was in the accident that gravely injured my sister when I was 20 years old and she was 27. Paula was hit by a car and remained comatose for several weeks. When she emerged, she was severely brain-damaged and a paraplegic. Ten years later, she was again hit by a car–in her wheelchair–and killed.
Friends were concerned that Would You would be too difficult to write. In fact, it was the easiest book I’ve tackled yet. I didn’t have to worry about plot! The characters are teenagers and the main challenge was to capture their irreverence and humor alongside the tragedy.
The friendship between the sisters, Natalie and Claire, is inspired by that of my own two daughters. As a mother, I delight in the love they have for each other. It is impossible not to think about my own sister and what I have lost. But here I am, 30 years later, having a fine life, and surrounded with the alternate reality that only teenagers can provide. I hope that I have written an elegy for my sister and an homage to my children.
Praise for the series:
“Jocelyn's trademark collages are an important part of the four books. Appropriately, the clothing items are all clearly defined while usually being placed on a patterned or textured background. The background colors mirror the colors one normally sees during a particular season…. In addition to being a public library purchase, the Jocelyn quartet, if not received as a gift at baby showers, is a "must buy" by parents who want to introduce their very young children to the world of imagination contained in books.” Highly Recommended
— Canadian Review of Materials
Praise for Hannah’s Collections:
“Tidy and temptingly tactile collages show the young heroine contemplating her many collections.… Pack rats should all be this artistic.” — Publishers Weekly
Praise for Hannah and the Seven Dresses:
“The vibrant collage art, using fabrics of every colour and texture is the perfect medium for this energetic story.” — Brandon Sun