Turkish children's book writer and artist Elif Yemenici explores the challenge of confronting fears through a mesmerizing excursion with her distinctive title character, Pina. Yemenici evokes a gothic, even mystical atmosphere with her extraordinary illustrations, which in turn meld beautifully with the tone of the tale. Pina is a true adventure in plot and art--every page turn brings another exciting discovery to treasure.
Pina is afraid to leave his cozy, safe home. Unfortunately, he's encountered a conundrum: he is out of cheese. Pina's "knees quaked with fear as he timidly opened the door," but he employs coping techniques like deep breathing and positive thinking to ferry himself through the challenge. Yemenici balances the relatability of Pina's fears with the humor of his irrational thoughts, "If he walked too close to buildings, a flowerpot might fall on his head from a window ledge above." This harmony eases the fright factor and should enable young readers to delight in Pina's success.
The true prize in this picture book is Yemenici's incredible art. She sculpted Pina, built a shadowbox home for him and photographed all the scenes of the story over the course of two years, brilliantly harnessing perspective, focus and lighting to enhance emotion. The detail is exceptionally lifelike, grabbing the audience's attention with each new page. The absence of color for scenes outside Pina's house adds to the forbidding atmosphere and enhances the suspense. Pina sparkles with enchantment from beginning to end. --Jen Forbus, freelancer