________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005


The Elusive Mr. Zee.

M.J. Martin. Illustrated by M.J. Martin & A. Danby.
Thornton, ON: Lion and Mouse Tales (P.O. Box 1010, L0L 2N0), 2004.
32 pp., pbk., $14.95 (plus $4.00 shipping & GST).
ISBN 0-9730583-2-3.

Subject Headings:
Insomnia-Juvenile fiction.
Sleep-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

* /4



Now it's time to go to sleep I wait for Mr. Zee To cast upon my sleepy head Drifty, dreamy z-z-zees

But I toss and I turn and I turn and I toss I adjust and fluff up my pillow My blankets lie here and a little bit there Sprawled over my stuffed armadillo And I hum and I haw and I haw and I hum I peek at the inky black sky Even the moon lies curled up asleep Spouting z-z-zees as he slowly sails by

Mr. Zee you're elusive - where are you tonight? Did you run out of letters for me? I long for some sleep - a wink will do fine And some of those wonderful z-z-zees- PLEASE! A wink and some wonderful z-z-zees!

Matthew slid out of bed and tripped over Patch.

"Hey! Watch where you're going! Can't a cat get a decent night's sleep around here?"

"Sorry 'bout that Patch. I can't seem to fall asleep tonight."

"I hear drinking warm milk helps. Besides, wouldn't mind a splash myself."

Matthew and Patch were in the kitchen enjoying some warm milk when suddenly, through the kitchen door, Mr. Zee made his grand entrance.

"Hey! I'm just in time for some delicious warm milk. Let me show you how to make the best milk ever. First we take lots of chocolate mix, then we pour the warm milk over it and stir. Voila! Hot chocolate! All we need are lots of chocolate chip cookies. Okay, time to dig in."


Matthew is having difficulty sleeping, and so his friends and teacher offer advice on how best to solve his problem. After trying suggestions and not getting any sleep, Matthew finally gets the help he needs from his sister and her offer of a blanket and a hug.

      The Elusive Mr. Zee is a classic example of a self-published title with some good ideas that get lost without enough editing. The narrative is confusing and hard to follow, and the slang and vocabulary seems too old and difficult for the intended audience. Changes from first person narrative to third, as well as from rhyme to text and back again, do nothing to help the narrative thread.

internal art      The illustrations could also do with less. Instead of clarifying or adding to the text, the chaotic watercolour and pencil crayon illustrations add to the confusion. Mr. Zee, when he arrives, seems menacing and doesn't bring sleep—is he good or bad? These questions are not resolved by the ending which depicts the Lion and Mouse trapping Mr. Zee in a cage.

      I found the song and music to "Mr. Zee" at the end of the book rather catchy and charming, and so perhaps the book has its place. But overall, this book is not worth spending valuable resources on.

Not Recommended.

Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and now resides in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.