Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Kid Lit

By Sara Pearce, spearce@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Indigo by Alice Hoffman (Scholastic; $16.96; ages 10-13). This slight book is a contemporary fable about identity, family secrets and finding a place in the world. Trevor and Eli McGill are clearly misplaced in Oak Grove, a small town with a history of flooding that has been dry for 15 years. The boys stand out not only because of the webbing between their toes and fingers but also because they thrive in water.

        The brothers long for the ocean in all their waking and sleeping moments. They eventually discover who — and what — they are with the help of Martha Glimmer, their only friend. Martha has problems of her own,but those, too, are washed away in the end. There is not enough of the magical realism that such a modern-day fable requires,but many images linger long after the deep-blue covers are closed.

       Quack, Daisy, Quack! written and illustrated by Jane Simmons (Little Brown; $13.95; ages 3-5). The excitable duckling Daisy returns in her fourth picture book, which takes her to Aunt Lily's farm with her brother, Pip. The siblings set out to make friends immediately,but their loud hellos — buzzes to the bees, tweets to the birds, eeks to the mice — send their would-be playmates fleeing. When Lily leads Pip and Daisy to a spot where they can be comfortably noisy — a lake brimming with loud-mouthed ducks — they get separated. Daisy must use her loudest voice ever to be heard above the incessant quacking around her. The bold, thickly textured paintings are as animated as Daisy, whose triumph will tickle independent-minded tots.

       What the Baby Hears by Laura Godwin, illustrated by Mary Morgan (Hyperion Press; $15.99; ages 1-3). At each of the pauses in this gently rhyming text, children are encouraged to guess the specific sounds that baby animals hear. Mixed in with the typical “oinks” and “purrs” are such challenging sounds as “click,” “nuzzle” and “boink” — all leading up to the three little words a human baby hears: “I love you.” The friendly colored pencil and watercolor illustrations have a child-centered focus on the interaction between parent and child in a wide range of settings from the Outback to a pond.


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