Monday, February 28, 2011

Flight of Fancy: Follow Me by Tricia Tusa


So begins Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing," whose theme Trica Tusa's forthcoming Follow Me (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) recaptures in her soaring fanciful flight of childhood imagination. Tusa's swinger is no plump and dimpled Victorian tot: she's a long, limber-limbed kid whose bony ankles have grown well out of her brown pants and whose long, skinny braid swings wide behind her, but as she climbs on that old rope and board swing and kicks off, her thoughts soar through the air with those of her predecessor of more than a century ago.



Outdoing Stevenson's always tethered-to-earth child, Tusa's little girl soars through the colors of a spring garden, over the wall of reality, and into the browns, yellows, and reds of a beginning-to-bloom wood, floating across the rooftops, finally to drift down, down, down to the green world to find her way back home at last.

As Robert Frost puts it, it's "good both going and coming back," in Tusa's Follow Me, a celebration of childhood imagination and its ability to slip the bounds of earth and fly, or as her dedication says, a salute "to childhood and all that comes after."

Tusa's illustrations have contributed to many noted books, including In a Blue Room, Maebelle's Suitcase (Reading Rainbow Book) and this year's The Sandwich Swap, co-authored by Jordan's Princess Rania and Kelly DiPucchio, author of Grace for President.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Getting There: The Tortoise or the Hare by Toni and Slade Morrison

Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise both have an image problem. Everyone dislikes Jimi. A natural speedster, Jimi is considered a stuck-up show-off. Jamey is slow and sure, but he's dang smart, so smart that everyone calls him stuck-up, too. Both of them need a media makeover, and when the local newspaper advertises a golden crown for the winner of a rematch of their classic race, both of them begin to calculate their strategies.

"What stories please your readers the most," asks Jamey. "The winner who loses or the loser who wins?"

"For overall satisfaction," gushes the reporter, it's when the winner loses."

Savvy Jimi, however, is also into media management.

"But what gets the most attention," he asks her. "the largest crowd or the loudest cheers?"

"Loud cheers excite us all," she replies. "But for overall satisfaction, it's the largest crowd."

Okay. The competitors have their strategy laid out for them, but now it's time for the actual tactics of the showdown. Jimi trains strenuously, honing his fast-twitch muscles and training his mind to retain his focus this time around until he crosses the finish line first, but true to form, he adds some gymnastics moves to draw a huge crowd. Jamey, on the other hand, knows he's not fleet enough of foot to best Jimi in the stretch, but discovering a loophole in the rules, books tickets on rapid transit to get himself to the finish line first.

And this time the outcome is confounding! Jimi wins, but then, so does Jamey, as the headlines show:


Authors Toni and Slade Morrison manage to flip the moral of the well-known Aesop's fable in their latest, The Tortoise or the Hare (Simon & Schuster, 2010). With the former rivals both achieving their objectives and burying the traditional hatchet, everyone wins and no one loses in this ironic twist which spoofs the "game the media" style of modern sports heroes. Joe Cepeda's comic illustrations carry off this rather sophisticated message in agreeable style.

Since this reworking of the fable requires knowledge of the original, pair this one with Janet Stevens' jolly traditional version, The Tortoise and the Hare (Reading Rainbow Books).

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now? The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood



The publication of Deborah Underwood's 2010 The Quiet Bookcame out with a bang. A New York Times Best-Seller, a Publishers Weekly Notable Children's Books 2010, Junior Literary Guild Best Books, 2010, and a place among the coveted American Library Association's Notable Children's Books 2010, the little book, which celebrates life's pleasant (and not-so-pleasant) moments of silence, now has a companion book, Underwood's forthcoming The Loud Book! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), also charmingly illustrated by Renata Liwska.

There are life's joyful LOUD moments...



and then there are those Oh, n-o-o-o-o! LOUD moments that resound down the halls of memory:


Liwska's soft-focus illustrations, which alternate between brown and gray figures against a white background and full color pages, add to the understated humor of belly-flopping into a crowded pool, spilling a bag of clattering marbles in the Shhhh! silence of the library, and even the metaphorically loud glare of an offended movie goer at the crinkly crackle of a candy wrapper during a big scene. These two books go together like a pair of fraternal twins, alike and different in ways that set off each other. The Loud Book!belongs on every early childhood bookshelf.


Friday, February 25, 2011

What IF? On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells

Across from me in his seat, Dutch was scanning the paper again. He had it open to the Christmas Eve massacre story. Then it came to me. I glanced leftward to the two ladies in the seats beside us. They were deep in face-to-face conversation. The last time I saw them, they had been thumb-size and made of tin. So had Dutch. He was the metal man with the tin glasses reading his newspaper. And I was the tin boy on the opposite seat, riding around and around forever, staring out the window of the Golden State streamliner at another great big Oscar who might, this very minute, be peering in at me.

I had jumped onto a toy train and escaped into some kind of time and space neverland.

Rosemary Wells, famed for her Max & Ruby toddler tales, has here herself made a huge jump into another literary genre altogether--the young adult time travel fantasy, with great success.

It's 1931. Oscar and his widowed father live happily enough in their little house in Cairo, Illinois, their retreat from fifth-grade arithmetic and trying to sell John Deere tractors to hard-pressed farmers. Oscar and his dad share a love for their elaborate Lionel train layout in the basement and spend most nights down there together. But it all ends when his dad loses his job and their house and is forced to sell their beloved Lionel trains to town banker, Mr. Pettishanks. Oscar is reluctantly taken in by his stoic, penurious Aunt Carmen, who ekes out her living teaching piano and declamation to the town's richest children, while his father tries to find a new life for them in California.

There is no joy in Aunt Carmen's niggardly rules and lima bean and canned cod-cheek casseroles, and Oscar finds brief relief in a chance meeting with Mr. Applegate, a vagrant ex-teacher who secretly coaches him in math, tells him about Einstein's theory of time, and teaches him his private code for memorizing Kipling's "If," a skill which happens to endear him to Mr. Pettishanks, who is duly moved to allow Oscar occasional visits to his former trains on display downtown in the bank.

There after hours on Christmas Eve, the now watchman Mr. Applegate lets Oscar in to run the trains, and when two robbers force their way in and fire their guns at them, Oscar follows Mr. Applegate's last words, "Jump, Oscar!" and leaps into the train layout. When he comes to his senses, he finds himself amazingly inside the Lionel scene, now full-sized and as real as he is, with the train to Chicago just pulling into the station. Still fearful, Oscar bolts onto the train and into a time travel adventures which takes him to Los Angeles in 1941, back east to New York City before the Crash in 1926, and eventually back to his own time with his life forever changed.

Along the way Wells has her resilient eleven-year-old hero meet up with many celebrities of that time and future times, including Ronald Reagan, as the cheerful recent college graduate "Dutch" who travels with him to Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock, intrigued by the bank robbery mystery, and Joan Crawford, whose own elaborate train layout helps Oscar, now 21 and reunited with his older (and balder) father, escape a team of draft-dodger hunters by jumping onto a train to the New York City of 1926.

On that train is a willful ten-year-old runaway rich girl, Claire, who takes Oscar, now six years old, back to her wealthy life with her stockbroker father, where the young Oscar tries to warn a meeting of financiers--including Joseph Kennedy, Sr., accompanied by his young son Jack--of the coming stock market collapse three years in the future. And when Claire's father decides to pack Oscar off to an orphanage, Oscar jumps once more, this time into Claire's train layout which takes him back toward Cairo, again eleven years old but this time with knowledge that will enable him and his father (now with his youthful full head of hair temporarily restored) to have a new and better life together.

It's an absorbing read, with plenty of adventure and a delightful mix of history thrown in, in a real change of pace for the versatile Wells in her latest, On the Blue Comet, 2010. Her publisher, Candlewick Press, has gone all out in this beautiful edition, complete with creamy page stock and charmingly nostalgic, absolutely gorgeous illustrations by the prodigiously talented Bagram Iboutalline who adds much to a tale in which Lionel trains become the means and metaphor for Einstein-inspired time travel.

As School Library Journal says, "The sheer beauty of this winning book will attract many readers; the magic of the story and its likable protagonist will hook them."

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Tutu In Good Time: Tallulah's Tutu by Marilyn Singer



Tallulah had yearned for her tutu since she first peeked through the front window of the ballet studio and saw the ballet students pirouetting in their stylishly poofy skirts. At her first lesson she knows just what she expects in her first tutu. "I want lavender!" she announces to the student next to her at the barre. Tallulah pays attention, she practices her plies, and reaches high in her releve. "I am a fabulous ballerina. I'm going to get my tutu right after class." she convinces herself.

But three lessons go by, and no tutu materializes. Tallulah tries to tell herself that the tutu truck must be tied up in traffic and continues to practice her positions dutifully. But at last she can contain her impatience with her teacher no longer, and in a bit of a temper demands her tutu!


But putting off her tutu is not part of Tallulah's plan. She quits!

Still, Tallulah can't quite get ballet out of her mind. She continues to plie whenever she pets the dog and uses any handy chair for a few barre exercises. Even the slew-foot stance of the next-door Basset hound reminds her of second position. And then one day at the supermarket, Tallulah hears a bit of familiar music, and her feet begin to move in an impromptu danse for the customers.

At last Tallulah realizes that she really wants, more than a tutu, is to dance. It's time to return to ballet..



In Marilyn Singer's forthcoming Tallulah's Tutu (Clarion, 2011), practice makes perfect and pays off with a trophy tutu at the end-of-year recital. Singer's Tallulah is not the first little girl to put style over substance in her choice of ballet, but Singer's subtle message of the value of form and finesse over fashion comes through with a fine final flourish here. Alexandra Boiger's illustrations of preschool apprentice ballerinas are choice, capturing just the right body language in her lovely little dancers with charm and youthful grace. Fans of Holabird's Angelina Ballerina) and Numeroff's The Jellybeans and the Big Dance will take to Tallulah, tutu or no tutu.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

With Heart and Voice and Hands: These Hands by Margaret H. Mason

Look at these hands, Joseph.

Did you know these hands used to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat?

Well, I can still help a young fella learn to tie his shoes
--yes, I can.

A grandparent's hands have done many things over the years, but there is still work for them to do.

In Margaret Mason's forthcoming These Hands (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) a grandfather whose hands used to tickle the ivories can still teach a boy to play "Heart and Soul," and the hands that once threw a wicked curve ball can still teach him to hit a line drive.

But there was once something those hands could not do:

Look at these hands, Joseph.

Did you know these hands were not allowed to touch the bread
dough in the Wonder Bread factory?

Well, those hands joined with other hands.

And we carried our signs

And we raised our voices together.

Based on a true story related to author Margaret Mason, this story, ably interpreted in the understated but glowing sepia illustrations of Floyd Cooper, narrates one of the small victories in African American history. Unfortunately late for Black History Month this year, this one is well worth reading at any time. With simple but lyrical text and outstanding art worthy of any major award, it is as Kirkus Reviews says in their starred review: "This one stands tall not just for delving into a piece of labor history not previously covered, but for its ability to relate history with heart and resonance."

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Too-Too (II): Too Pickley! by Jean Reidy





It's always good news when a picky toddler declares he's hungry, but that joy soon turns to consternation as this freckly little redhead turns up his persnickety little snub nose at a variety of foods--wrinkly raisins, squishy tomatoes, fruity fresh fruits, and an undeniably fishy whole fish, eyeballs, scales, and all.

Nothing pleases this little food critic, from the sublime (spicy pizza) to the ridiculous (slimy snails). Soda pop is too "burpy," carrots are too "crunchy," and on and on through a progressively absurd selection--freezy peas in a block right out of the freezer, and stringy spaghetti which wraps up the tot like a mummy. A bowl of eyeball and octopus soup is, predictably, "PEE-YOOEY!"

Will this kid NEVER eat again?

Jean Reidy, in her latest tantrumy-tot tale, Too Pickley! (Bloomsbury, 2010) finally breaks the tension with a final page in which we see the youngster with a big smile and a cleaned plate, proclaiming at last:

As in her companion piece featuring a fashion-conscious little girl, Too Purpley! (Bloomsbury, 2010), (reviewed here) Reidy reinforces the common wisdom that dealing with this irritating but inevitable self-assertive stage of preschool development is best met with a sense of humor. Again illustrator Genevieve Leloup's deft use of super-saturated watercolors and backgrounds backup Reidy's bouncy rhyming text to make feeling finicky about as much fun as it's ever gonna be.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 21, 2011

Action Figures: Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen

"I've called you here today, men, because I have an important announcement. One that will change our lives."

"I am proposing," Henry continued, reading carefully from his notes, "that we Undertake and Implement a Series of Daring Experiences and Grand Adventures the likes of which the history of Western civilization has never seen, at least not from twelve-year-olds in suburban Cleveland."

"Why?" Reed asked, a hint of panic in his voice. "Why are we underwhatsitting and implewhositting?"

"Henry's got spring fever," Riley explained, somewhat dismissively.

"What I have in mind is so much bigger than that," Henry said. "I'm working to create a series of tasks that will Prove Our Manhood and show us What We're Made Of. And if we play our cards right, we just might Alter the Course of History a time or two."

"And, of course, Impress Girls and Get Them to Notice Us."

It's the buddy movie writ small in Gary Paulsen's latest comic guy novel, Masters of Disaster (Wendy Lamb Books, 2010). Henry Mosely is the Swengali, the master planner with the sweeping vision here; Riley is the methodical plotter, the calculator of formulas, the charts and graphs guy, and the amanuensis of awesome adventures, and Reed, who worries about curfews and loss of blood, is the hapless chump who actually is drafted to carry out all Henry's grand schemes.

It's Reed who proves that, yes, it is possible to ride a bike down a steep roof, bounce off the diving board and swimming pool cover and execute a full airborne somersault into a trash can of used disposable diapers--safely. It's Reed who actually loses his pants to one wild beast and encounters a mad elephant, a.k.a., the sinister Boy-Eating, Water-Dwelling Snake Creature of Cleveland (don't ask!) during their survival weekend in the neighborhood woods. And it's Reed, who, attired in a haz-mat suit of Riley's contrivance who experiences the ultimate Dempster-Dive to collect specimens for what in Henry's grand scheme is going to the the science experiment to end all science fairs--and nearly does.

With thrills, spills, gunky garbage, pond scum, dirty diapers, and varieties of doody that all leave poor Reed with a permanent, er, essence, what's not to like here?

The Newbery-winning (for Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition) Paulsen, who has written plenty of serious-themed, metaphor-dense, coming-of-age novels in his time, is also the author of drop-dead funny, laugh-out-loud boyhood adventure tales--Lawn Boy,Lawn Boy Returns, How Angel Peterson Got His Name, and Mudshark, to cite a few--and here has a non-stop, tongue-in-cheek, laughfest that will keep even reluctant readers page-turning until the thrilling conclusion, in which even the guys' arch-nemesis, the loutish bully Dwight Hauser, gets his well-deserved comeuppance and the boys manage to Prove Their Manhood and even Impress Girls.

"It was," Riley said, "awesome."

"I'm so glad someone other than me is going to wind up smelling like crap," Reed said.

"I can't wait for summer vacation," Henry said.

I can't wait for the summer sequel.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pie Thief: The Case of the July 4th Jinx (Milo & Jazz Mysteries) by Lewis B. Montgomery

Milo asked Jazz, "Do you think the fair is jinxed?"

"I don't believe in jinxes," Jazz said firmly

"Then how come so many things are going wrong? Animals getting loose, Uncle Sam losing air, hot peppers in the fireworks box... and now this."

"Any of those things could have been an accident." Jazz pointed out.

"Yeah," Milo said, "but that's a lot of accidents."

But when the stage music CD of "Viola's Violets" cued up for Viola Pritchett's School of Dance turns out to be a heavy metal song, "YOU'RE IN THE JUNGLE BABY!," the little purple-flower-costumed girls start to gyrate and leap around the stage, and Miss Pritchett almost has a conniption. Even the rational Milo is beginning to believe the July 4th Fair has been jinxed, but Jinx points out some more reasonable suspects, the Zoo Crew, a group of rough, tough pranksters who just happen to hanging around the scene of all these disasters.

But then another scene of mayhem ensues. Screaming kids are climbing in panic out of the kiddy plastic ball pit, and a little girl admits to hiding a five-foot rubber snake beneath the balls. And, she says, a big boy told her to do it. But she cannot identify any of the Zoo Crew as the culprit.

Finally someone steals champion baker Mrs. Smalley's beautiful lemon meringue pie just before the judging, and it looks like there's no way to solve the case before the July 4th Fair becomes a total disaster!

But then Milo gets the next installment in his sleuthing lessons in the mail from Dash Marlowe, teacher of the Secrets of A Super Sleuth. Dash Marlowe's directions for disguise, role-playing, and infiltration of suspect gangs gives Milo an idea how to get inside the Zoo Crew to gather evidence. Will his undercover work prove that the big, tough kids are indeed the dastardly spoilers of the town's holiday fun? Or is there a real perpetrator hiding in plain view?

Mystery books are sure-fire best-sellers with book lovers and library readers of all ages, and kids are no different, especially those just beginning to tackle chapter fiction. Lewis B. Montgomery's latest The Case of the July 4th Jinx (Milo and Jazz Mysteries) (Kane Press, 2010), the fifth in this popular series, has plenty of clues, blind alleys, and suspects to keep young readers turning the pages through the ten short chapters. Many illustrations by Amy Wummer break up the text to make reading easier, and an appendix of "Super Sleuthing Strategies" gives young detective wannabes tips, brain stretchers to puzzle over, mini-cases, and observation exercises for some follow-up fun.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shuteye: Sleepy, So Sleepy by Denise Fleming



As the earth darkens, the world's tiny babies fall asleep close to their mothers, and in the hands of master picture book artist Denise Fleming, this common vignette is given its proper due.

Fleming's amazing colored wood pulp illustrations fit the simple, sleepy text perfectly--in glowing but muted colors, shaded by deep blue, in soft focus, showing only the faces of each sleepy baby, eyes at half-mast. Mother is always suggested in each illustration, as a sleepy baby elephant leans wearily against its parent's ponderous leg and a somnolent possum dozes with its siblings on mom's shaggy back; a joey's head droops as he dozes in mother's pouch, and a baby giraffe rests its head on its mama's generous neck.

After each three couplets, however, Fleming introduces a third line to the text:


Fleming allows a gentle tension to build as this question remains unanswered as she goes on to show several more oh, so sleepy babies, until at last, after baby anteater drifts off to sleep, we get our answer.


There's a comforting resolution here, as a massively yawning tiny human baby's face is shown, followed by comforting human hands which tuck in the little one, with his companion sock monkey, with a just right "sleep tight, sleepy babies."

Fleming's brand-new Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy (Henry Holt, 2010) is one of those perfectly realized picture books where text and illustrations are near to being one, each page a jewel of creativity and sensitivity.

What a way to say good night!

Labels: ,

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Clue in the Clock: The Case That Time Forgot by Tracy Barrett

At first Xander Holmes thought that the slip of paper must have fallen out of his own notebook. But even as he stooped to pick it up, he noticed some details that most people wouldn't have seen. This was partly genetic--he was, after all, the great-great-great grandson of the the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. His sister Xena read the few lines on the paper:

"So the bullet missed?" the detective asked.

"Yes, she ducked, so--"

"What, son?"

But he was on his way out the door. "Dad," he called back, "be sure, lock the door on your way out. I'm going to the homes."

Xander grinned. "I think I figured it out. Read it out loud."

In her latest installment of The Sherlock Files, The Case That Time Forgot (Sherlock Files) (Henry Holt, 2010), author Tracy Barrett has young sleuths Xander and Xena Holmes on the trail of an ancient Egyptian amulet believed to be capable of stopping time once every fifty years. Their classmate Karim Farag, the recipient of secret information passed down in his family for over a hundred years, first tests their detective skills and then persuades Xander and Xena, as the possessors of Sherlock Holmes' own Casebook of unsolved cases, to take up the challenge to complete the investigation that their ancestor was forced to drop long ago.

But it seems there are other forces which have clandestine reasons to have Xena and Xander solve the case for them. As they make their way from the British Museum's Egyptian Rosetta Stone, to Cleopatra's Needle, then to Big Ben's clock tower, the Cat and Crown pub, and at last back to the Museum for the unwrapping of a Pharaoh's mummy following Sherlock's century-cold trail, a sinister hooded figure seems to be shadowing them. And when Sherlock's Casebook is stolen right under Xander's nose, the two fear that they may be in danger of more than just failing to solve their ancestor's old case.

A rousing detective story, this one takes full advantage of its London setting as Xena and Xander take the Tube around the sights of the rainy, foggy cityscape seeking to stay ahead of their pursuer in the race to find the mysterious amulet before its time-stopping powers are activated. Real clues mix with fake ones to give both the young detectives and the reader an intriguing mental workout in this latest in the series, which also includes The 100-Year-Old Secret (Sherlock Files) The Beast of Blackslope (Sherlock Files) and The Missing Heir (Sherlock Files).

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Poor Richard Rides Again: Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce

by Nate Wright, Esq.

Egg salad
School picture day
Bubble gum that loses its flavor in 20 seconds
Any art project involving egg cartons or pipe

Big Nate is back, but he's not having his best week.

The good news? He's finally been named captain of the SPOFF (Sports Played Only For Fun) fleece ball team. The bad news? That show-off, know-it-all, perfect A+-only Gina is on his team. She can't hit, she can't catch, and she can't pitch--anything but sarcasm, that is, and her pitiful performance is the only thing that stands between Big Nate and the SPOFFY, the coveted soda-can-covered-with-crumpled-foil trophy for the championship.

The good news? He's assigned to do research on Benjamin Franklin, whom Nate finds to be a pretty cool dude. The bad news? His partner on this big-deal project is--Gina.

Nate actually hides out, er, does research on Big Ben in the library while dodging other duties. Nate is proud of his research product, BEN FRANKLIN COMIX, which the stodgy Gina rejects, pointing out the superiority of her thick desktop-published thesis, complete with web photos and copious facts about Franklin, Citizen and Founding Father.

Nate sees an opening here. He makes Gina an offer she can't refuse: she pretends she can't play on fleece ball days, and he "lets" her do the whole report all by herself, assuring that her record of perfect grades will remain intact. It's a win-win for our boy!

But best laid plans often go astray. First, Mrs. Godfrey, stickler for the rules of writing, detects, amazingly, a significant transgression in Gina's report:

Mrs. Godfrey starts flipping through it. Her smile slowly fades.

"Is--is something wrong?" Gina says. Her voice sounds a tiny bit higher than usual.
"Can you tell me about these visual aids?" Mrs. Godfrey asks.

Gina looks panicky. " some of them off the internet and I photocopied the others from library books."

Mrs. Godfrey frowns "The instructions were very clear." She reads them aloud.

"Visual aids are an important part of your project. You must create them yourself. Using images from outside sources could result in a failing grade."

At first Nate secretly smirks. How tragic for poor Gina. But then he remembers that as part of the team, her grade is also his grade. And he's already failing. Ooops!

In Lincoln Peirce's second cartoon classic, Big Nate Strikes Again (Harper, 2010) it's a win-win for both Gina and Big Nate, as Big Nate pulls this one out when he produces his Ben Franklin Comix, which knocks Mrs. Godfrey's socks off with its creative graphic exposition of the well-researched highlights of Poor Richard's career. Advantage: Nate. But then Gina comes off the bench to sub for the injured Nate and hits it out of the park in the championship final of the SPOFF playoff.

Score: Nate: 1; Gina: 1. And the rivalry continues.

As in his New York Times best-selling Big Nate: In a Class by Himself, Peirce hits a home run in Big Nate Strikes Again, with his hilarious spoof of middle school angst and his practiced cartoon exposition. Jeff Kinney, author of the wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid, says, "Big Nate is funny, big time." He ought to know.

Peirce's just-out latest is Big Nate: From the Top.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wonder-Land: Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes



In a switcheroo on Alice, this white rabbit is the one who goes into wonder-land. In his imagination, Little White Rabbit becomef Little Green Rabbit to find out if it's easy being green. When he wonders about the tall fir trees, he grows until he's eyeball-to-eyeball with the birds soaring above the treetops.

He wonders at what a rock feels, and suddenly he is a stone statue of a little rabbit, solid and immobile, resting under the clouds, in the gentle rain, and sleeping into the silvery moonrise. But unlike Sylvester, this Little White Rabbit needs no magic pebble to restore himself in time to float and flutter with the butterflies.

But his idyll is broken by the appearance of a little black cat, and Little White Rabbit wonders no more, hopping home as fast as he can to hide in his mom's soft fur with his brothers and sisters.


A perfect companion piece to his Caldecott-winning Kitten's First Full Moon, Kevin Henke's newest, Little White Rabbit Greenwillow, 2011) is another of those picture books which catches those magical moments in which a young child, suddenly free of mom and his own backyard, lets his imagination run free, always knowing that there's a warm welcome and a kiss when he returns back to her safe and secure presence. Henke's artwork seems simple and spare, but with his broad line drawings, here appropriately outlined in a deep green, his soft vernal pastel palette and graceful curved lines charm the eye and suggest the cyclical line of the simple story, as his little hero shakes the bounds of home for a brief adventure into fantasy and returns, full circle, to where he, for now, belongs.

As the Washington Post's reviewer puts it most piquantly (and alliteratively), Kevin Henkes's Little White Rabbit is a paean to the power of the imagination, a pastel song of praise that evokes the same unfettered joy as his My Garden (2010) and A Good Day (2007)."

Labels: ,