________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 3 . . . . October 6, 2000

cover Sebastian's Promise.

Gwen Molnar. Illustrated by Kendra McCleskey.
Vancouver, BC: Hodgepog Books, 1999.
46 pp., pbk., $4.95.
ISBN 1-895836-65-4.

Grades 1 - 2 / Ages 6 - 7.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4


"Do you have any small white woolly lambs?" said Sebastian into the telephone.
"We have many, many small woolly lambs," said the man in the second toy store, "but they are all black."
"Do you have any small white woolly lambs?" said Sebastian into the telephone.
"We have many, many soft woolly lambs," said the man in the third toy store, "but they are all very big."
"Oh," said Sebastian. "Thank you but they won't do." Sebastian and Nana phoned all the toy stores in the city. Not one of them had a little soft white woolly lamb like Doolie.
"I will have to bring Jennifer something else when I visit her in the hospital this afternoon," said Sebastian. "She will be very disappointed."
"You did your best, Sebastian," said Nana.
image Sebastian promises to find his little sister Jennifer's missing stuffed toy, Doolie Lamb, after she goes to hospital with an ear infection. But he has trouble keeping his promise - the lamb is not in any of the places he searches. None of the toy stores he phones have one like it. He offers Jennifer an orange dinosaur instead, but she refuses. So he comes up with an imaginative idea he hopes will surprise and please her. He builds a snowman for her homecoming. But Sebastian ends up being surprised himself when the snowman melts and reveals - guess what?
    Beginning readers will be able to handle the short chapter format of this "Hodgepodge Book" with its good-sized print, use of parallel construction and appropriate vocabulary. The plot is simple and child centred, and the drama and mystery are credible, with just the right number of obstacles. A surprise twist, foreshadowed in Chapter One, resolves the mystery, although it's a bit of a stretch to accept a clothes dryer that never shuts off.
    Sebastian is a likeable older brother who shows patience and devotion to his little sister in his determined efforts to recover her favourite toy. He demonstrates the importance of keeping a promise or, if that proves impossible, at least of accepting that you've done your best. Secondary characters are kept in the background but are there to support Sebastian.
    he use of vocabulary repetition is a necessary aid to early readers. They also need to experience examples of rich language. I found the adverb "very" turned up too often; perhaps there are better choices than "...very, very cold," "...very, very wet" and "...very beautiful."
    This book has a delightful cover. The simple line drawings that introduce the chapters may have less appeal to children who are fresh from the sensuous images in picture books. Sebastian looks quite old in some of the illustrations, and the lack of detail makes others difficult to decipher.


A former teacher-librarian, Gillian Richardson, who lives in Sorrento, BC, is a published writer of children's fiction and nonfiction.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364