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February 4, 2010 Edition
Manushkin takes readers to an apartment in Chicago where winter has worn out its welcome and a little girl named Rosy is having a hard time getting up to face another gray day. Her mother tells her the story of how once, when she was a little girl in Minsk on a day just like this, she was coaxed out of bed (and the sun out from behind the clouds) by a mysterious surprise. First she watches her mother, then she helps make sunny circles of pancake and lay them out on a sky-blue tablecloth to cool, then fill them with a cloud of sweet cheese and roll them into bundles. By the time Rosy’s mother, Rosy’s grandmother, and Rosy’s grandfather sit down to eat the cherry-jam topped treats, the snow is melting, the wind has turned into a warm breeze, and the whole family sheds extra socks and sweaters. And by the time she hears that, Rosy is ready to come out from under the covers and see if Minsk magic will work in Chicago. (The recipe is included so readers can find out whether it works in Juneau!)
Vellum pages at first show only shadowy figures in the foggy, foggy forest, but each turn of the page reveals the truth. An elf, three bears, Snow White, Cinderella, and other familiar characters are hidden by fog, waiting to be found by young readers. No real story here, but the illustrations are enchanting and will captivate many kids who are ready for a bookish hide-and-seek.
Okay, we’ve all seen books of opposites, but this is a book of superlative wordplay! Triplets of animals show up here, each just a little “more” than the first, so that a big hippo is outweighed by a bigger orca, who itself is dwarfed by the biggest, a dinosaur. But that’s not all – each animal uses synonyms to describe itself: the slimy newt is damp, dank, and moist, but the slimier octopus is viscous, slippery, and slick. This is THE book for budding wordophiles, and though there are a few missteps (the nocturnal bat is the “sleepiest”?) overall, the colorful illustrations, declarative sentences, and rambunctious words make this a winner.
Everyone crowds onto the bed for storytime – mom, two kids, and… 6 dogs? As dog owners know, your dog wants to be where you are. But dogs sleep sideways, drool on pillows, and will eventually push you out if you don’t hang on. Told in bouncy rhyme and illustrated with colorful scruffy dogs, this is the saga of one family’s nighttime ritual as they banish their dogs from the bed, let the dogs in, then out, then in again, and then go through it all over again before finding a happy solution.
Our curly-haired narrator tells the circular tale of how his best friend traveled the world and returned home again to fall in love and marry. When the unnamed young hero catches a baby falling out of a window in what appears to be 19th century England, he is rewarded with a half-a-crown coin. He uses it for a train trip, gets lost in London and begins his seafaring career by falling off a bridge in the fog and landing on a ship. By the time he comes home again to see his best friend, they are both grown men, and as he walks down the street of the falling baby, he finds she’s not a baby anymore! Observant readers will see the story about to start all over again at the end of this lovely and somehow pastoral story.