By Judy Dykstra-Brown
Reviewed by Antonio Ramblés
Judy Dykstra-Brown’s latest effort, Sock Talk, is a big departure from her earlier works, which include a contribution to the short story collection Agave Maria, and her non-fiction work Lessons From A Grief Diary.
Sock Talk is a children’s book,written for ages 6 to 10, and is illustrated by San Juan Cosalá artist Isidro Xilonzóchitl. Most of the sixteen illustrations are colorful full pages. Any child or former child will find the theme of the book familiar, but Judy tells the story quite engagingly with the clear fingerprint of her own childhood experience always clear and present.
In this iteration of the tale, an aged maiden aunt gives the mundane gift of socks to the book’s young protagonist year after year, and the child at last resolves to confront her about the practice. The result is predictably unpredictable, and at one point both the child and the reader are resigned to the inevitability of yet another Christmas with no gift but socks:
“Why don’t you try them on, my dear?” my Aunt Knox asked with awful cheer.
And she was grinning ear-to-ear as she held out some sox with seals emblazoned on their toes and heels.”
While the book is subtitled “A Christmas Story,” its related messages – that there’s more to things than meets the eye, and that a gift horse is not to be looked in the mouth – has an evergreen relevance. Written in rhyming verse, this book runs about 1,500 words. The writing style is reminiscent of Dr. Suess, and although it lacks the good doctor’s edginess and fanciful villains, it begs to be read aloud.
The illustrations harken back to a time before computer animation. Their composition seems often almost Rockwell-esque, and the style evokes illustrations from children’s books of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. The author has dedicated the book to her niece, with the clear implication that the author herself has a history of sock-giving. The book is available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book for $6.99, and as a large-print paperback for $12.99, and is the first in a planned series.