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RINGTAIL.

Patkau, Karen.

Verses by Patricia Sillers. Toronto. Oxford University Press. 1987. unpaged, paperbound boards. $12.50, ISBN 0-19-540585-4. CIP

Pre-school to Grade 1
Reviewed by Fran Newman

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July


Patkau has won recognition for Don't Eat Spiders* and One Watermelon Seed." Here she has used textures to advantage. There is a spiky-looking Ringtail, a raccoon whose adventures are highlighted by real dried flowers and ferns, cut-out animals, lace, feathers. . . in other words, Ringtail is an eye catching delight.

What about the words, then? Awakened from a cosy nap in a ravine. Ringtail begins a search for food. She falls in a stream, encounters a moving rock turtle, a feisty mother duck, a stern owl and a fox. Feeling quite famished by now, Ringtail invades a house and feasts on potato salad before being shooed out by the person whose kitchen is now a mess.

I do have a quibble about this book and it has to do with the rhyme pattern throughout. It is, in some cases, very awkward to read aloud:

Snoozing late this afternoon
in a tree
hard to see.
is a black-masked ringtail coon.

This is the pattern. Sometimes it becomes a double verse; at other times, the author skips a beat, as in:

WHOOOOO? Yikes, the great homed
owl!
Round wise
yellow eyes
fix her with a wicked scowl.

or

The owl dips and dives and swerves, gives up at lastó the coon's too fast. Whew, that was hard on Ringtail's nerves!

I am also a purist about rhyme and notice pairs like owl's and fowl, stream and ravine.

Nevertheless, this book has joined the ranks of wonderfully illustrated Canadian books and that is reason enough to celebrate it.


Fran Newman, Murray Centennial, Frankford, Ont.

*Reviewed vol. XIV/3 May 1986 p. 136.
**Reviewed vol. XV/1 January 1987 pp. 33-34.

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