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Free the Lines

Title: Free the Lines

Author/Illustrator: Clayton Junior

Age Group: 2-8

Synopsis: A cat goes out fishing on his boat and happens upon a ship trawling. The cat watches as all the fish are scooped out of the ocean and decides to act simply but effectively.


The Low Down:

I was so hesitant about the age range I put down for this one. Bug loved it and was reluctant to return it to the library but at the same time trawling isn’t really a topic that is easy to discuss with a two year-old. In the end, I decided introducing the idea couldn’t hurt and that as he grows older the meaning behind the story would be more apparent. That’s what really draws me to this wordless story of Clayton Junior’s. It’s a mature topic that is presented in such a way that it’s easily digestible for young readers. And if they don’t understand during their first reading it still possesses a story they can enjoy.

The cat that readers follow throughout the book is such an expressive fellow. He’s quite small in all the pages. Truly the only close up we get of him is his paw. However, it is still easy enough to guess what he’s thinking. When the cat sets sail we’re unsure of his intention but as he drops a fishing line in the water, it becomes evident that he’s in search of a tasty treat for dinner. That’s when the nasty weather blows in. After making it through the storm the cat is overtaken by a ship that turns out to be a trawler. All of the fish in the sea are being scooped up by this enormous, smoke billowing monstrosity. This resourceful feline simply pulls out a scissors and snips the line attaching the net to the ship. The fish escape and the cat goes home to enjoy his supper.

It’s the illustrations that bring this all to life and Junior does a fantastic job of providing engaging and amazing pictures for readers to gaze at. The entire book is done in teal, white, and black. The emphasis of the story is very easily recognizable. The trawler, net, and smoke are all black. This clearly casts them as the invaders of the cohesive environment, created with only the teal and white. Additionally, the style of illustration Junior uses perpetuates the theme of the story. The creative use of lines in the book continually reminds the reader that the title is Free the Lines. The fish and other creature lack detail or even an outline but their shape is clear enough from the lines Junior uses to decorate their bodies. They entire effect is striking. Bug loved identifying the creatures and honing his story telling skills. He version of the story is much more optimistic (In his version the ship says sorry to the fish and lets them all go). Realistic or not I’m pleased that he has such a pleasant view of the world and that when his views begin to change he’ll have books to turn to to find more information.


Story Tips:

  1. We practiced our cutting skills after and had fish and chips, of course!

I need more!

Clayton Junior also has a book of opposites out that looks stunning. Check out Alone Together and his other work on his website: http://www.claytonjunior.com/BOOKS-new


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