________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003


Peter’s Pixie.

Donn Kushner. Illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2003.
32 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-88776-603-X.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4


Peter peered into the cradle. The pixie crawled out from under the blanket and set to rocking, side to side. Peter heard his parents' footsteps behind him and turned around. The cradle was still rocking when he looked at it again, but it was empty.

"You're too old for the cradle now, Peter," said his mother. "That's for the new baby."

Adults recall that, as children, they observed the world and had weighty concerns about what was happening around them. How that concern manifests itself is different with every child. In Peter’s Pixie, the child’s relationship with the “mystic” next door neighbour, Aunt Agnes, assists Peter in dealing with his loneliness and accepting the birth of a new little brother. Peter sees a pixie at the oddest moments. Aunt Agnes advises him to shower it with gifts, such as a bowl of milk or a pot of water. The pixie’s playful antics and the placement of his gifts lead to misunderstanding by Peter’s parents who gently admonish him to be more responsible. Peter is lonely when the pixie disappears, but he discovers that the best gift for his pixie is the new baby, his new playmate whose bright blue eyes twinkle just like his magical friend.

internal art

     Donn Kushner was a microbiologist who was also a musician and wrote for children. He passed away in 2001. The book is published by his estate with a loving foreword written by his nephew. Kushner obviously remembered and understood how a child’s mind works. This is a warm, gentle story that would be perfect for parents to read to children before and after the birth of a new sibling.

     Sylvie Daigneault’s illustrations, with softened lines and muted colours, are a beautiful complement to the text. A few of the pictures are presented from the perspective of the pixie. Oversized mushrooms are magical-looking. A sense of continual motion comes from fairies that swish through the air (without being noticed) and tree bows that bend over the cradle protectively. The summertime setting provides more opportunities to embellish the drawings with flowers, greenery and sunshine.

     Young children will enjoy this story and will want to explore the illustrations over and over. Parents will appreciate the assistance it can offer as young children adjust to momentous changes in their lives.

Highly Recommended

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

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

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