It is rare to find a picture book with such an original story line and such beautiful illustrations, even rarer when they are done by the same person. Allen Say portrays the creative and imaginative Emma beautifully in both word and picture. From a very young age, Emma is a gifted visual artist. The plain white throw rug beside her bed is the source of her inspiration. Many of us have seen patterns in linoleum, ceiling tiles, and clouds that remind us of animals and other things. Emma sees the entire world in the nap of her rug. Tragedy strikes when her mother washes it and all the malleable fuzz is removed. Emma’s muse is gone. She gives up art. In the end, Emma realizes that her entire world is full of hidden pictures, in the trees, the grass, and in the clouds. She resumes her art.
Emma is a child of Japanese descent. In Allen Says’ illustrations, we see children of all sizes and races. The realistic, detailed, exceptionally beautiful pictures make Emma, and her world, come alive. I have previously read Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say and am pleased that his exceptional quality storytelling and illustrating continues.
Emma’s Rug is sure to stimulate discussion around the source of creative inspiration and the behaviour of artists.