Review by Lauren Hathaway
Tundra, Penguin Random House, 5 May 2020
40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-1-10191-869-2
Ages 3-7, Preschool-Grade 2
Life can be rather boring when you’re a lightbulb in a dark closet. At least it is for Ray, who passes most of his time in dreamless sleep, waiting to be turned on. Then one day, Ray is moved into a lantern and taken along on a family camping trip, where he sees the big beautiful world like he never has before.
Marianna Coppo has an extraordinary ability to bring personality and vivacity to inanimate objects, first to a rock, in her debut picture book Petra, and now to a simple lightbulb in Ray. Coppo keeps the text short and sweet, allowing the words to add just the right dose of humour to her charming pictures. Through subtle details, she is able to convey Ray’s nuanced feelings and emotions, from boredom to awe to joy. Young readers will love discovering little details and patterns as they get to know Ray. Aside from characterization, Coppo expertly uses colour and space to show Ray’s journey from both literal and metaphorical darkness to light, as he ventures outside the confines of his small closet and into the great outdoors.
Seeing life from a lightbulb’s perspective reminds us how extraordinary a place the world truly is. Imaginative and fun, Ray will surely brighten up story time at home, the library, or school.
Lauren holds an M.A. in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in English from Fordham University. She regularly reviews children’s books for School Library Journal and loves sharing books with her eight nieces and nephews back home in Arizona.