“A Galon of Water” by Aiden Woosol Lee

“A Galon of Water” by Aiden Woosol Lee 1 1 Reader Views Kids

A Galon of Water

Aiden Woosol Lee
Lumiere Picture Book by Kids (2023)
ISBN: 978-1952322099
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (12/2023)

Young author/illustrator Aiden Woosol Lee provides his readers with another wonderful tale in “A Galon of Water.”  In this story, a young glass of water has an unfortunate accident as he falls off the kitchen counter.  He is fortunate to have been saved by the pink rug on the floor.  But while he survived his accident, he’s now… different.  He’s only half full of water in a community of full cups.

However, his scary event didn’t just leave him half full of water. Galon has discovered that his half cup of water has left him with the ability to create steam! Surely that shouldn’t be a problem though, right?  This was an accident.  No one would possibly think badly of him for what happened and how he’s changed.  Right?  Well, it seems full cups of water that have the ability to walk and talk are similar to people; many of them don’t know what to make of those who are different.  Galon feels very alone and unwelcome now.

Nearly all children can relate in some way to the concepts of feeling unwelcome, different, and misunderstood.  Whether it’s something physical, mental, emotional, or simply presumed this is a universal concept.  Yet it can still be a tough challenge to overcome.  So how does Galon cope?  I don’t want to give away details, but I can tell you that Galon takes his half-full cup of water and fills the rest with determination.

There is so much to unpack in this one seemingly simple story.  I adore the illustrations, especially those of the mug and his cups with their “strange brands,” suggesting a gang of tattooed thugs.  Or the pictures of the enraged adults, which are positively mean and completely scary looking.  I loved the intricate details of Galon’s room decorations, and the objects he creates with steam.

The illustrations provide more meaning to the amazing story, but it’s the combination of these two forces, text and pictures, that is greater than the sum of its parts.  Children and their parents will find themselves reflecting on the unfortunate (and harmful) nature of so many who shun those they find different, or fear that which they don’t understand.  But they will appreciate how Galon reacts once he comes to grips with what has happened as he learns to be himself, coming to appreciate just how special he is.

This is the second book by Aiden Woosol Lee I have had the pleasure to read and review.  He wrote and illustrated his first book, “Para Lights” when he was a 6th grade student.  Roughly four years (and three books) later, I love the growth I can see in this uniquely talented young man.  His text and illustrations present a rich, distinct style with much to say to children.  It’s nice to hear this perspective presented from the eyes of a young person instead of another adult.

I wondered when I first held this book, why Mr. Lee chose Galon for the name of his main character.  Why the French spelling instead of the English Gallon?  I fell down a virtual rabbit hole searching for additional meaning here, eventually stumbling upon the Old North French meaning of galon as a liquid measure as opposed to the US gallon which can be liquid or dry.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Mr. Lee deliberately chose Galon because he is at first measured and found wanting by those around him who presume him to be “less than” now that he is only a half glass of water.  But then Galon found the measure of his worth in what he could do with what he had.  For this reason and many others, “A Galon of Water” by Aiden Woosol Lee is highly recommended for readers of all ages.

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