________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 1999

cover Sassy Gracie.

James Sage. Illustrated by Pierre Pratt.
London, UK: Macmillan Children's Books (Distributed in Canada by McClelland & Stewart Inc.), 1998.
27 pp., paper, $9.99.
ISBN 0-333-68428-1.

Subject Headings:
Dance-Juvenile fiction.
Cookery (Chicken)-Juvenile fiction.
Problem solving-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Alison Mews.

* /4


Oh dear! What was Sassy Gracie going to do now? She had eaten both chickens! Well, this is what she did. She scooted out the back door and around the house to the front. clunkety-CLUNK, clunkety-CLUNK.

Crikey, Mister are you in trouble! Puff, puff. If I were you, I'd hot foot it home while the going is good. Puff, puff. Because you're so late, my Master is planning to give you two big bumps on the head with his walking stick! Puff, puff. Listen! You can hear him coming now.

And the guest listened.
And, sure enough, this is what he heard:

So, naturally, he made tracks...while Sassy Gracie scooted back into the house, clunkety-CLUNK, to speak to her Master.

That's a fine guest you invited!
He's run off with my two roast chickens!

Her Master was very annoyed.

image Sassy Gracie is a very unusual and disturbing story. Gracie, who at first glance appears to be a child, but is actually hired help, cooks two chickens for the Master in Cook's absence, but she unintentionally eats them. Rather than devise an inventive way of providing an alternative meal for dinner, she makes up stories so that both the Master and guest blame each other while she goes off to bed. And that's it. There are no creative solutions by which Gracie redeems herself. Having committed the initial misdemeanor of eating her Master's dinner, Gracie compounds it by lying about the missing chickens and setting two friends against each other. There is no evidence of any remorse nor any hint by the author that she will have to confess to her deceptions and bear the consequences.
     James Sage, an award-winning author from England, has told this story with energy, including copious use of onomatopoeia which would contribute to its success as a read-aloud. Likewise, Pierre Pratt, who has won awards in Canada for his illustrations, has imbued his vibrant illustrations with a similar energy. However, this is not a book I would share with children. I think Sassy Gracie has gone beyond mischievous and is unacceptably deceitful.

Not recommended.

Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre, Faculty of Education, at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. John's, NF.

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ISSN 1201-9364