This contest is now closed. Thank you to everybody who entered.
I was recently given the opportunity to review Steve Ouch's SteamPotVille, which was just published by Running Press Kids. It came at the perfect time because I had already planned my feature on interactive books and SteamPotVille fits in nicely with that group.
Illustrated using photographs and digital photography, Ouch has created a dreamlike town in which nothing is as it is expected to be. The animal inhabitants live in tea kettles. Cats wear hats. Birds say "buzz" and bees live underground. It's like a weird mashup of Graeme Base's Animalia (another worthy title I left out of Monday's review) and Alice in Wonderland. The note at the beginning indicates that SteamPotVille is a place found in the imagination, and that by continuing to imagine and explore the young reader can prevent his or her "SteamPotVille" from getting "soggy or wet."
This sets us off on a journey through SteamPotVille, where strange things are happening to the animal residents. A brief story is told in rhymed verse. I thought this was the weakest part of the book; there are times when the rhymes feel forced or clunky and places where I feel the author could have exercised better word choice. However, this was of little consequence to my children, who fell in love with the bright, crisp illustrations. This is where the book really shines and Ouch's true talent lies. Looking at the detail within each spread, it's clear that he spent quite a bit of time creating and manipulating the images to serve his story's purposes.
When we come to the end of the book we are shown a spread with pictures of different animals and are asked to go back through the book and find them. But what my kids were most eager to do was go back through the pages and talk about what they saw: they discussed why the cats might be wearing hats and how the bee had gotten underground. It really opens up the door to creativity and storytelling. School aged children might enjoy taking this a step further and creating their own picture collages, either digitally or with photographs and magazine pictures. The storytelling possibilities can be executed on many levels and I can see this book being used as a teaching aid in elementary school-level writer's workshops or art classes, or even in digital media classes for the junior high/high school set.
I am giving away one copy of SteamPotVille, courtesy of Running Press. If you would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with your email address (to avoid spammers, please spell it out: you at youremailaddress dot com) by midnight on Tuesday, May 18). I will draw one winner at random and contact you via email to coordinate shipment of the book. One entry per person, please.
For more information about SteamPotVille and Steve Ouch, please visit SteamPotVille online!
*Disclosure: Running Press has provided me with a review copy of SteamPotVille and will handle shipment of the book to the winning entrant. I have not received monetary compensation in exchange for this review and any opinions expressed in this review are my own.