________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 19 . . . . May 24, 2002

cover Animal Sneezes.

John Roy Bennet. Illustrated by David Wysotski.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2001.
24 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894222-44-X.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

**** /4


The elephant sneezed
When a little spring breeze
Brought a feather to tickle her nose
With her trunk lifted high
She just let it fly
Like a hurricane out of a hose.

The sneeze of the bear
Cut the quiet night air
With a blistering blast of a bellow
In tents all around
Campers jumped at the sound
Then tried not to tremble like jello.

Animal Sneezes is a whimsical imagining of what would happen if (when?) animals sneeze. Many of us have witnessed the dignified sneezing of a cat, but what if a porcupine sneezed or a skunk? The fun is in the imaginative answers that result.

internal art

     This is John Roy Bennett's second book. His first, Jason Mason Middleton-Tapp is also published by Lobster Press. Each verse of Animal Sneezes captures the demeanor and situation of each sneezer. The swan "if you please/tried hard not to sneeze," as you can imagine any dignified swan doing, until the force is too much. She "kept it in check/Till it crept up her neck/And blew out with a trumpeting noise." Meanwhile, the bull's unabashed explosion blows the door off the barn on two sides. A mouse's ill-timed sneeze wakens the slumbering cat while an underwater otter's sneeze comes "bubbling out of his nose."

     The author's playful text is perfectly matched with stunning watercolour and gouache illustrations by David Wysotski. In a style he calls "painterly realism," Wysotski creates scenes brimming with humour. When the bear awakens the campers, the nighttime sky is as beautiful as the expressions on the surprised campers' faces are priceless. A three-toed sloth -- as slow to sneeze as he is to do everything else -- is wearing elbow and knee pads and is surrounded by other realistically rendered inhabitants of a rainforest, including toucans, tree frogs and vibrant hummingbirds. A pig obliviously slumbers with its teddy under its arm. Wysotski, readers are told on the dust jacket, "mixes his passion for the outdoors with a sparkling sense of humor to create beautiful illustrations that are also full of fun." This is certainly the case in this, his first book.

     A charming new picture book from the relatively new-kids-on-the block Lobster Press that would be welcome in any classroom, as well as school or home library.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway, who has worked as a bookseller and in publishing, is now at home with small children in Edmonton, AB.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364