Beaver Ball at the Bug Club

Mike Craver, Author, Joan Kaghan, Illustrator, Joan Kaghan, Photographer Farrar Straus Giroux $12 (1p) ISBN 978-0-374-30662-5
Short on plot, long on charm: that's the long and the short of this folksong romp. Readers know little about the gala ball or its raison d'etre, but the prospective attendees are agog with anticipation--``Old Man Muskrat's lookin' pallid / Fill him up on 'tater salad / Pluck his twanger / Slap his jaw / Send him down to Beaver Hall.'' The down-home, foot-stomping rhythms of this slight, nonsensical song are infectious; little ones will quickly take to such rhymes as ``Cleanin,' preenin' '' and ``puff your muff.'' Since the lyrics are intended to be sung rather than spoken, however, their syncopated meter becomes occasionally awkward. Also, some may feel that the recurrent attempt at a countrified style--achieved by lopping off the final G from present participles--comes off as affectation. The animal cast depicted by first-time illustrator Kaghan is somewhat static--and rendered in a bland palette--but her detailed portraits are for the most part realistically drawn. Though anthropomorphic, these characters retain much of their innate expressiveness. The musical score appears in the back of the book; tune up your banjos, everyone. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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