________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 14 . . . . March 12, 1999

picture Someone is Reading This Book.

Alice Priestley.
Willowdale, ON: Annick Press, 1998.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55037-448-6.

Subject Heading:
Toy and movable books.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

* /4


What is it, Giant? Are the seagulls all right? They'll let the prince fly! That's wonderful! Well, of course the reader and I will fly along, too, if it will make the seagulls feel better. Won't we, Reader? Let's hurry back to the cliffs. Mr. Chimley and his giraffe are probably there now. Maybe the prince's wish has been granted. Oh, no, Giant, you mustn't worry bout the hole in the paper. Owen can fix everything.
picture Someone is Reading This Book is a story that doesn't quite work.

      It's not clear what Priestley's purpose is, to tell the fairy tale, or the story of the narrator's activities. The author has tried to inject fun into the telling of a story, much as a choose-your-own-adventure does, but she forgets that, ultimately, the child who is reading the book wants a story told. As a result, the plot and outcome of this picture book are unsatisfying.

      The narrator, Bea, introduces herself and the fix-it man, Owen, but Owen is then only mentioned once at the end of the story. Bea begins to tell the story about the prince who wanted to fly and then is diverted by the unlikely presence of a Mr. Chimley and a magic giraffe. The seagulls who are supposed to play a part in the flight are uncooperative, but the narrator abandons this part of the story. Bea then heads into a boat and is confronted by a giant that is emerging from the sea and tearing the paper on the page. Bea convinces the seagulls to help. They do, and the prince flies. Bea apologizes for not telling the story properly and says good bye. The real story is found on both inside covers of the book. This story is confusing, and the plot is too simple, even for a picture book. Neither the character of Bea nor the prince has been developed, nor is there any effort, the reader sees, on the part of the characters in the prince's story to solve the prince's problem. Bea can fly, but we don't know why. The presence of Owen and Mr. Chimley and Freda the lighthouse keeper don't fit. The giant also seems to have been stuck into the story. It's simply too simple a fairy tale.

      The pencil crayon illustrations are done well, and each picture is framed with an interesting decorative border, with little flowers that react to the text. The colours are bright, but soft. The cutout pages, with windows that open and the giant emerging out of the ocean are cute, but since they are not consistent throughout the book, don't seem to be appropriate.

Not recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian at Niakwa Place School in Winnipeg, MB.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364