Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I LIKE OLD CLOTHES by Mary Ann Hoberman

Hoberman, Mary Ann. I Like Old Clothes. Illus. Patrice Barton. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Text Copyright 1976. ISBN 978-0-375-86951-8. $16.99.

Mary Ann Hoberman originally published I Like Old Clothes more than 30 years ago, but the simple and delightful story is just as relevant today. Told in rhythmic rhyme that just begs to be read aloud, I Like Old Clothes follows a small girl who documents her affinity for hand-me-downs. She loves patched-up, worn old sweaters, shirts with other people's names on them, and "once-for-good clothes, now-for-play clothes."

The little girl rhymes her way through what she loves about old clothes -- the fact that they tell a story. Who wore these before me? the little girl wonders. She daydreams about what games the clothes have won, what parties they've been to. I Like Old Clothes makes a case for appreciating vintage artifacts and letting your imagination tell you the story of where the clothes were and will be.

The illustrations tell just as much of a story as the words. Barton's textural sketches work well with the idea of fabric and clothing, as every illustrated setting has some element of of pattern overlaid on it. Green grass has a hint of a vine pattern, the squares of a floor hint at plaid, the sky is just-this-side of polka-dot or gingham. The little girl's enthusiasm for old clothes comes through in her illustrated expressions and her bouncing movements.

With its drawings rich with texture and its story of how-clothes-are-more-than-clothes, this book would be perfect for a budding fashion designer, fashionista, or any creative child.

Jill Coste

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