"The children of Fly Street were afraid of Meena. 'Meena is a witch,' Christa declared. 'She eats toads,' Klaas shouted. 'She drinks blood,' Thomas added."
Christa, Klaas, and Thomas are afraid of Meena, and when they find a girl, Anna, that has clearly been bewitched by Meena, they try to warn her, only for her to angrily reply that Meena is not a witch--she's Anna's grandmother! Could the three children be wrong about Meena?
Meena is a children's picture book by Sine van Mol, illustrated by Carianne Wijffels. Originally published in Dutch in 2010, as Mina lieverd, and English version is scheduled to be published on September 15, 2011 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.
The first thing I noticed about this book--surely the first thing anyone would notice--is the unique art style. Or, more correctly, the unique art styles. The book contains two very different kinds of art. The children imagine Meena to be a witch, so we see Meena-as-a-witch drawn in crayon in a simple style by the children. The real events of the story, on the other hand, are drawn in a much more detailed style--especially noticeable are the very detailed patterns of the clothing. Each kind of illustration is very nice and appropriate, and the contrast between the two styles provides a wonderful effect.
The story is pretty simple: the children believe Meena to be a witch, but when they meet her granddaughter and taste her cherry pie, they learn that she is just a kind old woman. It is too simple to be engaging as a story for older readers--I fear that the children at the top end of the 5-9 age range the book suggests may find it slightly dull--but the art is interesting enough, I think, for even adults to find the book worthwhile.
I'd recommend Meena for young children, especially those just beginning to read. Anyone can enjoy the beautiful illustrations, though, so you might consider it for both older readers and children not quite up to reading by themselves, yet.
Disclosure: this review is based on an advance copy received free for review.
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