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

  Smarty Pants.

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Suzanne Langlois. 2nd editon.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2002.
24 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894222-62-8.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Christina Neigel.

**** /4

When Norah's mom is away on business, she gets to stay with her great aunt and namesake, Auntie Norah. Like Norah, her great aunt is a little unusual. Their shared sense of play and their pun-like sense of humour help Norah when she is faced with an embarrassing situation at school. Superstitious Auntie Norah asks Norah to give her clothes three hard shakes one evening. In a moment of stubbornness, Norah refuses. Auntie Norah warns her that "Something eye-popping, heart stopping, holy-moly horrible" might happen to Norah the next day. Something does happen at school, only it occurs when Norah least expects it.

     The story addresses a common fear that plagues both children and adults - being embarrassed in front of a group of peers. Because Norah handles her embarrassing situation with a charm and a finesse that is in keeping with both her character and her status as a seven or eight-year-old girl, she becomes a hero and role model to her readers. Auntie Norah offers support to young Norah in a manner that respects her grand niece's exceptional qualities, making her character immediately appealing. In fact, she and Norah are clearly kindred spirits, sharing a relationship that many
would envy.

     The story is simple, comical, and reassuring. A situation that could have been devastating to many children becomes a forum for Norah to express her uniqueness. The detailed, watercolour illustrations that frame the text are delightful. The warm colours that shape the scenes and the characters solidly adhere the imagery to the text. The varied form and presentation of the illustrations work well with the structure of the story and exemplify Suzanne Langlois' abilities as an artist.

     This amusing and charming story possesses a plot that is certain to have widespread appeal.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Neigel is the Instruction Librarian at the University College of the Cariboo in Kamloops, BC.

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