Mad About Plaid

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
Mad About Plaid Book Poster Image
This tale and illustrations have a breezy hipness.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that it's easy to suspend your disbelief and actually care about how the plaid menace will be stopped. The writing is jazzy, and the illustrations have a hip feel, though neither is elevated to art.

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What's the story?

In a world gone plaid, little Madison Pratt tries to keep her head, and she succeeds because she has the key, a bit of worldly wisdom that extends beyond containing the plaid madness. Both Jill McElmurry's tale and her illustrations have a breezy hipness.


Is it any good?

It would be nice to think of this tale as a satire on the fickle and irrelevant winds of fashion, though that is likely not its intention. Jill McElmurry's first picture book is primarily an entertainment, suffused with energy and the palpable quality of being cool. That hip spark can be found in both the words and the illustrations. You can almost hear the rap syncopation: "It floated around from place to place. / Truly, it was madness! / Everything that plaid germ touched / caught a terrible case of plaidness." The artwork is two-dimensional, with the images standing apart as if cutouts, and it is also very urban, though softened by letting a lot of the action take place in parks.

Kids will quickly perceive that in these pages, not all that should be plaid is plaid; one 5-year-old wanted to know, "How come the tree is plaid if the leaves aren't plaid?" Good point, but it also highlights the fact that this is a book that makes kids want to look, and look hard.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fashion and "coolness." What makes somebody cool? Is it the clothes they wear? The music they listen to? Is it their attitude? And how important is it to be considered cool?

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