Title: I and the Great Divide (The Love Letter Series, Volume 1)
Author: Fiona McGlynn
Illustrator: Robin Urquhart
Publication Date: September 9, 2013
Publisher: Independent – CreateSpace
Number of pages: 30
Recommended age: 3 to 7
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Amazon (US) * Amazon (Canada)
i and the Great Divide is about a little letter “i” who lives with her Mom and Dad who are “n” and “t”. One day, “n” and “t” got mad at each other and started fighting all the time. This made “i” think that they didn’t love her anymore. She thought it was her fault so she tried to be good and when that didn’t work, she started acting badly. Then “n” decides to go live with two other letters and this makes “i” sad. She then learns that sometimes grown-ups want to live apart but her parents both still love her.
1. What do you think of the cover and/or the pictures in the book? I liked the cover and the pictures. I really liked how the people were in the shape of letters. It was unusual and I liked that. My favorite letters were “c” and “m” because they are in my name, but all the letters are cool. I liked the picture of “i” when she turned all blue because it looked cool.
2. What can you tell me about the main characters? “i” is the main character and she is a little girl who is shaped like an “i” because she is an “i”. She was sad because “n” wanted to live somewhere else. “n” and “t” were the parents of “i” and they fought a lot and didn’t get along, but they both loved “i”.
3. What is your favorite part of the book? I really liked all of the book, but my favorite part of the book is when she puts herself in words to make a different word like turning “ran” into “rain”. That was funny.
4. What is your least favorite part of the book? My least favorite part of the story is when she is sad and when she turns herself upside down to make a bad word because it’s naughty.
5. How did the book make you feel? I felt really sad when her mommy left because it’s sad. I don’t want my Mommy to leave ever.
6. Overall, what did you think about this book? I really liked this book a lot especially the pictures. The story was kind of sad because the Mommy left, but I also learned that “i” was still loved by everybody.
7. Who do you think would like this book? I think everybody would like this book.
Son Rating: ★★★★★
My Thoughts: Every now and then, a gem of a book drops on my lap. This is precisely how I feel about i and the Great Divide. As far as quality picture books go, this one has it all: it is original, innovative, and edgy in its approach; it features quirky and captivating illustrations; the rhyming verses are well constructed; and the topic (divorce) and underlying message are ones that are both highly relevant in today’s society and are under-represented in children’s books. LOVE IT!!
The reader is introduced to the character “i” who is a little girl whose parents are “t” and “n”. How clever is the author to have the main character named “i” in a book where it is so important for children to identify with the experiences described in the story?! Sheer brilliance!! This is what the author does so well (oh, and can I mention she’s a fellow Vancouverite?). Drawing on her own experiences , the author describes the thoughts and emotions “i” experiences as she tries to navigate “the Great Divide” between her parents. This includes describing the self-blame for the situation, anger when her parents continue to fight, sadness when one parent leaves to live in another home, and feeling unloved by her parents.
By the end of the book, “i” understands that it is for the best that her parents no longer live in the same house and that both her mother and father love her more than anything in the world. So, in terms of important messages in the book, the story serves to validate the plethora of emotions experienced by the child affected by divorce and ultimately helps them to understand that they are still loved by both parents.
I would like to simply state that I was blown away by the illustrations and the way they fit with the text. I love how the letters (i.e., “i”, “t”, “n”) were handwritten in the text and how the illustrator was able to bring to life and impart personality to the letters of the alphabet. I simply can’t resist: My son stated that his least favorite part was when “i” turned herself upside down to make herself part of a bad word. I laughed out loud when I read that part – I thought it was absolutely hilarious! Of course I stopped laughing when he asked me why it was a bad word. *ahem*
One interesting tidbit ... I have to share with you that my son was actually a bit upset after reading this book because the concept of his mother leaving the house to go live somewhere else is absolutely inconceivable to him. He knows of children who “have two houses”, but the meaning behind this is rather lost on him. The book did open up a discussion about divorce and what that may be like for children of divorced parents. Therefore, in this respect, I believe this book may also be a great resource to help children in intact households empathize with children who are affected by divorce (or other changes in their household composition).
My Bottom Line: i and the Great Divide tackles the difficult topic of divorce and it does it so well, with its creative approach of using the alphabetical letter “i” as the main character whose parents split up. The illustrations are amazing, the rhyming is solid (and you know how critical I am of rhyming and cadence), and the themes are so important and relevant. LOVE IT! I would recommend this book to children aged 3 to 7 years whose lives are affected by divorce. I also think that there is a lesson in empathy here for all children therefore this book could also be a great classroom resource as well.
* This book was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest opinions. *
About the Author and the Illustrator
Author Fiona McGlynn grew up on the West Coast with a love of stories. Like i, Fiona’s family changed when she was young. Fiona found this hard at the time but later realized that it had all worked out for the best. She wrote i and the Great Divide to help others with changing families. Fiona loves to play ukulele, climb rocks, sail boats, and curl up with a good cup of tea and a book.
Illustrator Robin Urquhart was born and raised in Canada’s great white North. His father, a well-known Northern cartoonist, instilled in him a love for bringing stories to life through pictures. In addition to drawing, he loves animals, climbing and playing music. Robin lives in an igloo (not true) and takes a dogsled to school every day (also not true).
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