________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 1 . . . . September 6, 2002

cover Priscilla's Paw de Deux.

Sharon Jennings. Illustrated by Linda Hendry.
Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55041-718-5.

Subject Headings:

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

** /4

Reviewed from prepublication copy.


It was very late, and Madame Genevieve's was deserted. Priscilla laced up her pointe shoes and turned on the music. She stood in front of the mirror and did everything the children had done earlier. And then, out of the corner of her eye and in the middle of her pirouette, Priscilla saw a dark shape spring from the shadows.

Priscilla the rat is an aspiring ballerina. In her search for a large enough space to practice, she discovers Miss Genevieve's Dance School. Priscilla decides to practice at night after the children have finished their classes. Alas, she is frightened off by a watch-cat. Her rat friends are reluctant to divert the cat while she practices, but, to her delight, she discovers that the cat also loves to dance. They become a duo that performs for their friends.

internal art

     This story is cute and full of possibilities. Jennings misses some ways that would make the story funnier and does not fully develop some aspects of the story that would emphasize conquering fears and stereotypes. For example, Priscilla works, but no mention is made of the type of work she does. If it's not important, it does not need to be mentioned. After Priscilla first meets the cat, she goes home and "shoved her bricks into place." No mention has been made of bricks or of the location of her rat hole. This phrase needs to be explained, demonstrated in the illustrations or excluded. When Priscilla and Percival the cat perform for their respective friends, there is a rope between the cats and the rats. Considering the fear that Priscilla's friends have expressed about cats, Jennings should have included their surprise about her choice of a dancing partner or some explanation about how Priscilla allayed their concerns about attending a concert with their natural enemies. How did Percival get his friends to behave? To keep the story from becoming overly long, the beginning could have been shortened. The story could have easily begun as Priscilla and her friends are discussing apartment hunting in the coffee shop, or when Priscilla and Rosy are at Sugarman's Candy Store.

     The illustrations by Linda Hendry are fun and interesting to examine. Priscilla's rat-hole is suitably crowded, the rats wear funky, fun clothes, and the rat's world is a mirror of the human world, just below human feet.

Recommended with reservations.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364