I think the only book I have liked Matthew Cordell’s illustrations in is Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg. His “scattered” style are lacking for me. There is the right amount of color and detail to compliment the story, yet, I am not “there” with him.
This book is in his style from illustrations to text and I, sadly, find nothing in it I like. The characters are lacking something for me. The story is flat. It is too busy overall. I am sure, however, that people will enjoy it. I’m just not the audience for it.
With that said, there are some interesting pieces in it. Alice is referred as “her” and “she” yet, wants to be called King Alice. Cordell does not make a “big deal” of this, other than having the father ask if she means Queen. This modern touch is nice without having it be some “big issue” comment. Alice is just playing and today she is King Alice. The father is the one Alice relates to the most. They have a close bond. The other interesting part is the family is biracial and again, this does not become a statement issue. The subtleness of these two pieces of facts is a refreshing change. The end does have Alice’s rambunctiousness causing issues for dad, however, it is solved in a modern way.
Most people will know Matthew Cordell’s work from his recent Caldecott win, Wolf in the Snow. This, too, was not a favorite, though it was one among many of my coworkers. Cordell’s appeal is very subjective.