________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2006


Raising a Little Stink.

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Pascale Constantin.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-896-2.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4


The lion, the lion tamer and the circus mouse took to bed immediately. The stinkbug put on an apron and got down to business. He sewed lace curtains for the windows, stenciled wildflowers on the walls and chiseled a wooden plaque that read "Home Sweet Home." Then he repaired a leaky faucet in the kitchen, popped a soufflé in the oven and opened a cookbook in search of a recipe for bananas flambé. After setting the bananas ablaze and putting them aside to cool he washed his hands and got out his feather duster.


In this delightful tale, the underdog - or in this case, underbug - proves triumphant over those who try to take advantage of him. When a lazy circus lion decides that it stinks to work for a living, he leaves the circus along with a lion tamer, a mouse and a stinkbug, all of whom were hitching a ride inside him. All free at last, they decide to live in an abandoned house, but it is the stinkbug, in the grand style of the Little Red Hen, who labours alone to make it liveable. A virtual Martha Stewart of the insect world, the little bug repairs and decorates and cooks gourmet meals. He obligingly jogs to the store 15 miles away to obtain items for companions too lazy to change the TV station, but, after the third trip, he asserts himself in the way a stinkbug knows best. Aghast, the idle trio plug their noses and escape back to the circus, leaving the little bug alone in his cozy cottage where he muses that "it never hurts to raise a little stink every now and then."

internal art

     Pascale Constantin's pastel illustrations extend the whimsical text with an absurdity of their own. The exaggerated facial expressions and relative size of the tiny bug carrying about a gigantic watering can and enormous soufflé dish contribute greatly to the humour. The final page is an absolute gem. The disgruntled circus buddies carry a banner that says "Working Stinks" while the smug bug touts one that reads "Stinking Works."

     Children who will be drawn to the title will be hooked on the story and will gleefully cheer for the little stinker who stands up for himself.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews is the Coordinator of the Centre for Instructional Services in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF.


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