Aug 30, 2011


When I was young, the coolest place to be was the empty lot across a busy road from our subdivision. There were mound and mounds of dirt and nothing else. I couldn't wait to be allowed to go by myself. Finally, when I was 9, my parents let me take my brother. We went with our very 80s BMX bikes. The scariest part was on the road in there was a house that belonged to a biker which had pitbulls on chains around the whole house, with only a foot between them. L'il bro rode the mounds up and down and jumped off of them, but I was too scared to do any tricks so I mostly just laid down and stared at the sky and pretended that the mounds were castles in Europe and the boys BMXing around me were knights charging their enemies. We went there often, and then in September we moved and had to find a new empty lot to make our own.

Boring summer days are the best.

These memories were dredged up when I read Mattland (CDN, JP, US) to my kids. We all loved it.

Matt has moved. Again. He has no friends, and the only place he can find to play is an empty lot. Not to be deterred, he conquers the lot and makes it his own Mattland. He makes rivers and towns and everything in between. By doing this he also makes a friend, and inspires some adults to get involved as well. Not bad for a kid with a little creativity trying to stave off boredom in a new place, eh.

This book isn't wordy. Its minimalist prose really suits the subject matter. However, we do want more adventures of Matt!

Mattland is an award winner (Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award 2009) and it is easy to see why. This is truly a great book, from pictures to words to the reaction from my kids.

Mattland is a collaboration between two Canadian authors, Albertan Hazel Hutchins and Ontarian Gail Herbert. Hutchins is a well-known author whose works span the children's genres, from picture books to teen fiction. We have two of her other books, Together and A Second is a Hiccup, both of which are big hits. I can't wait to add to our library. I don't know if Herbert has authored any more books but I hope so!

The evocative illustrations are a product of Dusan Petricic. He is a prolific illustrator, and my wish list is filled with books he has illustrated, from Rude Ramsay and the Roarding Radishes (by Canadian icon Margaret Atwood!) to Bone, Button, Borscht. I read Jacob Two Two and the Hooded Fang eons ago, and can't wait to share this series with my kidlets.

This was my
This is my 7th book for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge.

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