Reviews for Emma's Rug


Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
Emma carries everywhere a small rug given to her as a baby. She sees pictures in the rug, then draws and paints them herself, amazing everyone with her artistic skill. When her mother washes the rug, Emma is horrified but soon finds she can see images all around her and not just in the rug. A straightforward text and arresting, translucent watercolors dramatically portray how the young artist sees her world. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1996 #5
The small, ordinary, shaggy rug was given to Emma, a beautiful Asian-American child, when she was born. As she grows older, she carries the much-loved rug everywhere, often staring at it (though never walking on it). Emma amazes her parents and teachers when she begins to draw and paint. Her artwork is so skillfully done that no one believes Emma when she tells them that she simply copies what she sees. And then Mother washes the rug. A horrified Emma believes she can no longer create, until she sees images on bare walls, in the garden, all around her: "'I can see you!' Emma cried with joy." A straightforward text and arresting, translucent watercolors dramatically portray how the young artist sees her world. Each carefully rendered illustration conveys a sense of Emma's introspection and isolation as well as the unfolding drama created by the apparent loss of her artistic inspiration. Color provides an effective focus in each portrait of Emma as the story moves to its gratifying conclusion. m.b.s. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 May #3
A small white rug given to Emma as a baby becomes a kind of blank canvas that inspires her innovative drawings as she grows older. "Say's superb visual images, with the semblance of faultlessly composed photographs, make an indelible mark," wrote PW in a starred review. All ages. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1996 September #2
As a small child, Emma has two noteworthy practices: she stares for long periods at the fuzzy white rug she has had since birth, and she spends quite a bit of time drawing intently. When she enters school and garners many prizes for her artwork, it becomes clear that the seemingly blank rug is the source of her inspiration. Knowing more than Emma's mother, youngsters will wish they could intervene when she decides, soon after Emma is feted as the winner of a citywide art competition, that the now-dingy rug needs a washing and throws it into the machine. Caldecott Medalist Say's (Grandfather's Journey) deftly understated tale leaves ample room for readers' own interpretations. Yet it is his superb visual images, which have the semblance of faultlessly composed photographs, that make the most indelible mark here. As he has so affectingly accomplished with the characters in his previous works, Say fills Emma's face with abundant expression; her moments of anguish when she thinks she has lost the source of her art and her subsequent despondency seem wrenchingly real. Equally convincing is the child's tentative hopefulness when, in the book's most innovative picture, she spies the faces of many intriguing creatures (which Say hides playfully around her) begging to be drawn. An impressive creation, to be appreciated on many levels. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 September
Gr 1-3 Emma's small, plain white rug has been with her since her birth. What makes the child unusual, however, is not her love for her blanket, but her precocious artistry. In kindergarten her paintings amaze her teachers; in first grade she wins top prize in school, citywide, and other competitions. Emma is not impressed by her success: she "only looked at her rug." Comes the day when Mother puts the never-cleaned mat into the washer. It emerges ragged and thin. Emma is devastated and ceases to paint, days later disposing of all her work, awards, materials and rug. Then, on the now-bare wall of her room, she seems to catch sight of something. Rushing outside, she recognizes the denizens of her imagination and artist's eye, creatures "she had thought she would never see again." On the last page, she is putting pencil to paper. Adults, certainly, will make the connection between the tabula rasa of Emma's rug and the projections of her imagination. Readers who do not see all the subtlety of this story may still be delighted by the watercolors both Emma's childlike ones and Say's luminous evocation of her world, exterior and interior (the picture of Emma's anguish at her rug's fate is wrenching). Even baseboards and floorboards are eloquent as Say paints them. A tale about nothing less than the coming-to-consciousness of an artist who, in her seventh year, already feels her very identity inextricable from the making of art. Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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