________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 3. . . . October 4, 2002

cover Playhouse.

Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Markham, ON: Scholastic, 2002.
32 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 0-439-98959-0.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4



Rene went to her mother and said, "A farm playhouse needs a play barn, needs a play cow, needs a play tractor, needs a play mommy and a play daddy."

"A play who and a play what?" said her mother.

"A play mommy and a play daddy," said Rene.

"No," said Rene's mother. "You already have a real mommy and a real daddy. You don't need a play mommy and a play daddy."

"The real ones are too bossy," said Rene.

"Ha!" said her mother. "I am not going to make you a play mommy and a play daddy."

So Rene cut out a cardboard play mommy and a cardboard play daddy and stuck them on the side of her playhouse, and while she was at it, she made two play brothers.

It's amazing to me that Robert Munsch, author of over thirty books for children, is still coming up with ideas for new books. Playhouse is the story of Rene who, out on a farm with only two younger brothers to play with, wants a playhouse. Her father agrees to build a fabulous playhouse with real windows, a slide, a ladder and a real upstairs and downstairs. Rene declares it almost like a real house - but not quite. And so Rene demands more and more additions to make her playhouse right.

internal art

     Playhouse does not stray far from the Munsch formula of repetition and taking an idea to its illogical and very silly extreme. In this case, it is Rene's asking for other things that would make her house more real, things like a play barn, play animals and a play family. The family members try to outdo each other, get exasperated with each other and then admit that they love each other. As Rene's mother says, "I like real bossy kids better than play kids anyway."

     The illustrations are done beautifully by Munsch's most frequent collaborator, Michael Martchenko, who playfully depicts and extends the chaos that ensues as Rene and her family play off one another. Martchenko's colourful watercolours are full of lots of fun details: in this case, animals, especially chicks, abound in each scene.

     The last page shows the family, reconciled, with everyone eating a great dinner, except for Rene who has been served a "play" meal of pictures.

     Playhouse is perfect for reading aloud, as well as a terrific addition to any school or home library.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller who is currently at home in Edmonton, AB, with
small children.

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