Art Imitates Life.
Researchers long ago established that a child develops a sense of story at a very early age. We know this intuitively, of course, and it’s why we begin reading to kids long before they can read for themselves or even understand all of what’s going on in a given story. But there aren’t a whole lot of kids’ books that actually depict them telling stories themselves, despite the fact that we know they make them up all the time as they play. Holly Hobbie’s charming Fanny & Annabelle does just that.
On a drizzly day, Fanny decides to make her own picture book, featuring her doll Annabelle on an adventure. She’s not sure just what the adventure will be, only that it will star Annabelle herself and her Aunt Sally, who has a birthday coming up and who appears to Annabelle only as she begins to write and draw, a phenomenon “real” authors say happens all the time. When she gets as far as realizing that Annabelle doesn’t have enough money to buy Aunt Sally the locket she’s picked out, Fanny is stuck. To deal with her writer’s block, she takes a walk to the neighborhood deli for ice cream and it’s here that for Fanny fiction and real life begin to merge. I’m not a big fan of books for children that stretch to teach lessons; stories aren’t for moralizing. Part of the charm of this one, aside from its delightful premise and its witty illustrations is that Fanny initiates all the action, including its complications, and figures out its resolution all for herself. She even figures out that in her own way she's made art imitate life.
This one’s a winner.