Toronto illustrator Carey Sookocheff isn’t new to picture books – she provided the charming art for Maureen Fergus’s popular Buddy and Earl series – but she is new to authorship, and it’s a good fit. In Solutions for Cold Feet, Sookocheff takes full advantage of her dual role, crafting simple text that cannily makes room for the images to tell a story all their own.
The only characters are an unnamed little girl and her dog. We follow them as the girl faces six relatable kid conundrums, like getting caught in the rain or enduring a boring day. Solutions are then provided in an authorial second person, creating a call-and-response rhythm. The structure is familiar, one of the best examples being Sesyle Joslin’s 1959 Caldecott Honor–winning What Do You Say, Dear? But where Joslin is zany, Sookocheff is practical. There is not one single solution to every problem, and not every solution works. Some solutions lead to new problems. Some cause frustration. Not all problems have the same number of solutions, and not all solutions are presented in the same way.
There is gentle humour and subtle suspense in the way the art interacts with the text. Presented with a missing shoe, we know from the previous page that the dog is the culprit, but our protagonist doesn’t. The solution is to search logical locations, like in the closet or under the bed. When the text tells the girl to look under the table, the illustration reveals the now-destroyed shoe and her exasperation with her pet. The new solution? Wear a mismatched pair.
Beyond its narrative function, the art is lovely. The solid colours, limited palette, and off-register alignment nod to serigraphy. But what can often be a rigid style is counterbalanced by muted tones and dynamic outlines, in grey rather than the more typical heavy black.
Solutions for Cold Feet is a rich, engaging book. It will appeal to teachers, as the assignment is evident: students can name their own problems and propose solutions. With many easy entry points for discussion, it’s also excellent for one-on-one reading.