First off, Spork is one of the cutest, most clever books on mixed-race issues to land on my desk in a long time. Both story and illustrations create a perfect package of ticklish, delightful fun … with important life lessons for lasting zing. The writer, Canadian novelist Kyo Maclear, is herself hapa, the daughter of a British father and a Japanese mother, who “conceived the story of this mixed utensil with her husband to commemorate the birth of their first son.”
“Spork was neither spoon nor fork … but a bit of both.” While Mummy Spoon and Daddy Fork “both thought he was perfect just the way he was,” everyone (every-thing?) else in the kitchen, however, had different ideas. “Cutlery customs were followed closely. Mixing was uncommon.” That said, this is a 21st-century kiddie book, after all, so “[n]aturally, there were rule breakers: knives who loved chopsticks, tongs who married forks. But such families were unusual.”
Are you grinning yet?
For the billionth time, Spork gets that question familiar to all hapas: “‘What are you, anyway?’” After the zillionth time, he’s pretty convinced that life might be easier if he could “try to pick just one thing to be.” Yet the bowler hat he dons to look more spoonish just makes him too round; the paper crown he wears makes him too pointy. With no one else like him, he’s feeling pretty lonely, especially as he looks on while everyone else gets to enjoy a “super-bubbly bath in the sink.”
Then it happens one morning: “a messy thing arrived.” And for that mannerless, spilling, dripping, splattering “thing,” Spork proves to be the one perfect companion … you’ll have to read the book to see just what that “messy thing” might be. No secrets revealed here. In the end, Spork proves to be “[j]ust right.”
Oh, the messy, happy, delights …