________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 9 . . . . January 7 , 2000

cover Ooo-cha!

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Ruth Ohi.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 1999.
32 pp., pbk. & cloth, $7.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-604-7 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-605-5 (cl.).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


"Young lady!" roared the tiger, "my nose tells me that you have in your basket a seven-layer chocolate cake with triple fudge icing. Seven-layer chocolate cake with triple fudge icing is my favorite, and if you don't hand it over, there will be trouble!"

"Why should I give you my Great Granny Fanny's chocolate cake?" asked Emily.

"Because, " said the tiger, "I have teeth as big as daggers and claws as sharp as razors, and that should be reason enough!"

"You may have teeth as big as daggers and claws as sharp as razors," said Emily, "but you certainly don't have any manners, so you can have this instead." And she thunked the tiger over the head with her good witch wand and said the magic word, "Ooo-cha!" Instantly the tiger vanished, and in her place stood a beautiful tiger lily. Emily plucked the tiger lily and off she skipped, whistling and singing, and smelling her lovely flower.

image A send up of the classic "Little Red Riding Hood" story, Ooo-cha! turns a familiar theme on its head and still manages to seem fresh. Emily, a fearless young girl, is sent to Great Granny Fanny's house with a basket of goodies. Before Emily goes, her mother advises her to "always remember your table manners, and whatever you do, don't forget the magic word." Along the way, Emily meets all sorts of fierce beasts who demand her basket of goodies. However, their lack of manners leads Emily to use her magic wand nonchalantly - with the magic word "Ooo-cha!" - and turn them into a bouquet of wild flowers, which includes a tiger lily, a snapdragon and a bullrush, that she then takes with her to Great Granny's house. Emily also meets a frog, whom she kisses and transforms back into a Dragon Slayer, giving her an opportunity to release the dragon she's just "captured", thereby providing a livelihood for the out-of-work Dragon Slayer. Once at Great Granny Fanny's, Emily discovers that the Three Little Pigs have tied up Granny and also covet Emily's treats. The pigs are easily taken care of when Emily simply reverses her spell ("Aaa-choo") and releases her bouquet of wild beasts on the pigs. The tone is light hearted and fun. Anyone who cheered the Paper Bag Princess in Robert Munsch's classic spoof will champion Emily's triumph over the wild beasts she encounters, as well as the ease and self-reliance she exudes in doing so. Ruth Ohi's illustrations are stunning. Her watercolor, goache and pen and ink illustrations vividly capture the decorative style of fairy tale art of old, right down to the ornate borders that frame each page. While Ohi's work is slightly more stylized here in her twenty-seventh book, there is the same attention to detail. I love the expressions on the beasts' faces, as well as the fact that Emily's house looks like mine, right down to the toddler in the high chair with pasta in her hair. All in all, Ooo-cha! is good fun, and an excellent choice for reading aloud.


Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller living in Edmonton, AB.

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ISSN 1201-9364