Tuesday, June 27, 2006


19 GIRLS AND ME by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Steven Salerno (Philomel)
John Hercules Po enters his kindergarten classroom to find that the demographic is a bit heavy on the estrogen. John's older brother fears that the population will "sissify" him, but luckily, his little brother is more liberated than that, and his classmates don't hesistate to join him on adventures across the Great Wall of China, down the Amazon, and of course, into outer space. By the time they build a go-cart that seats all twenty, even John's brother has to admit, these are more than nineteen girls...these are nineteen friends. With gender roles, labeling and backlash still prevalent , this celebration puts the idea of people first and is the freshest offering since Charlotte Zolotow's classic William's Doll. It will keep those old-school limitations in cheerful check! (4 and up)

This is a very interesting pairing of author and illustrator. Darcy Pattison recieved a lot of classroom kudos for her kiddie-Kerouac homage to the open road, THE JOURNEY OF OLIVER K. WOODMAN (Harcourt), and Steven Salerno's illustrations have a kind of retro "Tom Terrific" swirly-curly bouyancy, lines loose and tumbling and with a palette so fresh, it always looks like the paint just might still be wet. I also love his other recent offering, the bilingual romp BEBE GOES SHOPPING with Susan Middleton Elya (Harcourt), and his slick and seriously bubblicious rendering of Margaret Wise Brown's THE DIRTY LITTLE BOY (Marshall Cavendish) is one of my storytime favorites. His special touch speaks most 'specially to the preschool set.

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