Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NINI by Francois Thisdale

Thisdale, Francois. Nini. Toronto: Tundra Books, 2011. ISBN# 9781770492707. $15.95. 

Thisdale is both author and illustrator of Nini, which begins in Asia with a baby in the womb who hears her mother’s soothing voice. However, she goes to an orphanage when she is only one day old. She is not mistreated, but she does not hear the comforting voice anymore. It is not clear why the baby is sent to an orphanage, but that detail may not be necessary. Readers learn that a husband and wife “on the other side of the world” are unable to have a baby. The story is fairly simple, almost like a fairy tale—which may be part of the point. Clearly, Nini will “live happily ever after” with her new family.

One of the strengths of this picture book is that it does not try too hard to cover every aspect of adoption. Children in adopted families would probably feel comforted knowing that Nini’s birth mother cared about her and in a sense she has two families. There are some words that would be difficult for young readers, such as “falter,” “shrill, and “frail.” Apparently Nini is a tribute to the baby Thisdale and his wife adopted. The illustrations complement and further the story. Thisdale uses drawing, painting, and digital images to create a calm but vibrant mood. The result is a serene depiction of a present-day family situation that would be enlightening for all readers.

--Cynthia McDaniel

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