Matthea Harvey's adaptive retelling of "Mary Had a
Little Lamb" began as an experiment in erasures—a method of
creating a poem from an established piece of text by omitting words or phrases.
Harvey worked with the biography A
Portrait of Charles Lamb by
David Cecil. She used Wite-Out to erase Cecil's text from the page, leaving
behind a few sparse words that eventually became an irreverent take on the
nursery rhyme. What emerges is a touching new tale about a lonely lamb who "lives
in the background" and Mary, who is "as pretty as a poem." The
two become close and lead each other on fanciful adventures. Harvey has paired
her words with illustrations by Amy Jean Porter, whose drawings are full of
color and give you insight into the lamb's innermost thoughts (for example, we
see him daydreaming about being a baseball player). The result is not a story
about a girl and her lamb; it's a query into the need for companionship and for
someone to understand us.