Anonymouse by Vikki VanSickle, Illus. by Anna Pirolli

Review by Jocelyne Gregory

Tundra Books (Penguin Random House), February 2021

34 pages, hardcover, $18.99, ISBN: 9780735263949

Ages 3–7 years, Grades Pre-K–1

Picture Book, Fantasy

Humans might have Banksy, but animals have Anonymouse. In Anonymouse, written by Vikki VanSickle and illustrated by Anna Pirolli, Anonymouse—as the reader learns—is an artist who paints not for the humans, but for the urban wildlife: the animals who live in the shadows of buildings, the birds who fly overhead, and the insects who work together to make a life in the city.

Anonymouse’s graffiti is there to remind animals of life before the city, and to encourage the wildlife to bring colour to urban life in their own artistic ways: spiders weave webs of yarn and crows leave green footprints. The impact of colour on the city changes the perspective of the animals, but with the sudden absence of Anonymouse’s art and presence, the reader is left to wonder: has Anonymous left for good? Will he reappear? Where will he appear next? We may not know, and can only look for his signatory brilliant bright pink across the city’s landscape.

There is a great emotional connection between the words and drawings of Anonymouse. The usage of vivid colour underscores the impact of the story; the humdrum everyday life of the city is depicted with brown and muted earth-tone colours, but it is the stark contrast of Anonymouse’s vibrant pink paint that adds a layer of life with the street art of lost nature and the animals that live in the city.

Anonymouse is a beautiful and vibrant picture book. It would best be suited homes and school collections and public libraries, especially in teaching avenues to help young readers examine urban wildlife and the impact of people’s lives on their surrounding environments.

Jocelyne Gregory is a UBC MFA creative writing graduate and a graduate of SFU’s the Writer’s Studio. She’s an author and editor and has provided manuscript consultations with the Sechelt Public Library and the Writer’s Studio. A lifelong gamer and fan of comics, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. 

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