Natalie Tinti's Sewing a Friendship
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Ages 6 and older
Book by a kid! Chapter book written and illustrated by a 10 year old
I'm stunned by all the things Natalie Tinti does right as a writer.
That may sound like an odd thing to say. Isn't a professional author supposed to write, well, professionally?
Yes. But Natalie Tinti authored and illustrated Sewing a Friendship at age TEN.
This young woman has voice and vision. From the opening chapter, "Journey of the Wind":
The beautiful, twinkling shining stars pulled away all wishes that were made that night by everyone, everyone, everyone. A mysterious moon twirled to other places, letting the sun have a chance to shine.... The flowers opened up and bloomed, the birds woke up and chirped a morning song, and the wind twirled wonderful music around in colorful circles.
This young woman is a poet, seeing color and detail and meaning in everything around her. She even treats us to a wind with a mind of its own who spins his way throughout her story.
Natalie Tinti knows that characters should be distinct. She treats us to four unique 7 year olds, a nine year old, a Babushka, and a dog. They have names like
And because Tinti is an artist as well, each character has her own unique look. Natalie works with colored pencils and thin markers (with a little color boost from her big brother's Photoshop).
The story of Sewing a Friendship is simple and well-structured. As school lets out for summer, the 7 year olds yearn to spend time together before planned activities pull them apart. They plan a "pink sleepover."
(Have I mentioned that this is a book for girls?)
As they prepare, though, they hear of a fashion show. How do they hear? I'll let Natalie tell it:
As far as they knew, Kiki Shaver was the meanest girl on the planet.
"Why are you so dressed up?" Sokron asked Kiki as she stared at the puffy purple dress, fish-net leg tights, high black boots, and gold necklaces.
"Because there will be a fashion show at the Shimmering Florida Hotel tomorrow. But of course you're probably not invited."
What'd I tell you? Natalie Tinti establishes tension and conflict like a pro. And who but a ten year old could think to name a locale The Shimmering Florida Hotel?
Trust me when I tell you that author/illustrator Tinti brings the story to a satisfying conclusion. The girls manage to participate in the fashion show and establish a friendship with Kiki.
And each girl brings her own special talent into play. This is a book that empowers.
Of course, the very fact of a 10 year old writing and illustrating a book is empowering, and that's another reason I recommend this book: for inspiration. Kudos to Natalie's family for recognizing that she'd done something extraordinarily special.
In Sewing a Friendship, Natalie Tinti finds the poetry and beauty in small moments while proving that kids can do remarkable things when they set their minds to it. (And make sure YOUR kid knows that even if writing and illustrating aren't her talents, she has some other ones that you've noticed.)
Webmaster's note: Also, check out our review of Sewing a Friendship 2!
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