GRANITE BABY

Lynne Bertrand, Author, Kevin Hawkes, Illustrator , illus. by Kevin Hawkes. FSG/Kroupa $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-32761-3

Wild, rollicking, and boopsie-cute, this tall tale scampers over the granite hilltops of New Hampshire without a misstep. When Jade, Em, Golda, Ruby and Beryl, five Amazon-scaled, colossally talented women, open a quarry, everything goes smoothly until the creative bug bites Beryl. She starts carving a picnic lunch one day, "granite root beer and finger sandwiches, granite dip and deviled eggs." As a finale, she approaches some pink granite and says, "Watch as I carve it into a real live baby." Her creation, Lil Fella, comes to life; he "cried, wailed, screamed, and hollered till you could actually see his yellin' in the crisp New Hampshere air." For all their strength and talent, the five sisters cannot comfort him. "Pretty soon nobody north of the Kancamagus Highway could eat, sleep or plow." In Hawke's (Weslandia ) bucolic spreads, clouds of letters spew from Lil Fella's mouth—it's a great running gag. Bertrand's (One Day, Two Dragons ) storytelling talent is as titanic as her heroines', and while her down-home diction would seem to be more likely overheard in Appalachia than New England, it's charming all the same. A girl named Nellie has to teach the sisters how to tone down their Bunyan-esque impulses before Lil Fella will quiet down. Readers of every size will roar at Bertrand's whoppers, and they will also enjoy a new twist on broad-shouldered American fables: sometimes smaller is better. Not to be missed. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/25/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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