Truman's Aunt Farm

Jama Kim Rattigan, Author, G. Brian Karas, Author, G. Brian Karas, Illustrator
Jama Kim Rattigan, Author, G. Brian Karas, Author, G. Brian Karas, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-65661-7
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-395-81656-1
Prebound-Glued - 32 pages - 978-0-613-01573-8
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Karas's strong signature style adds punch to Rattigan's ( Dumpling Soup ) sweet but befuddling tale. On his birthday Truman receives a mail-order ``ant farm'' from his Aunt Fran. But homonyms, for some reason, prove his downfall--pretty soon, he's overrun by hordes of generous ``aunts'' who shower him with affection. Truman treats them much like a cute but unexpected litter of puppies; he eventually allows a crowd of lonely kids into his house, and each pairs off with his or her ideal aunt. In the denouement, Aunt Fran arrives, apparently knowing what's happened (``He saw the twinkle in her eye. `You did a wonderful thing,' said Aunt Fran''), but she never explains the strange gift. Karas's unique compositions make bold use of rich color, flattened perspectives and amiable, ruddy-cheeked figures. Still, the illustrations can't help but seem subdued in comparison with his adventurous work in Frances Minters's striking Cinder-Elly (reviewed below) . This may be attributable to the written material: try as it might to offer warmth and wackiness, Rattigan's narrative doesn't take risks--or, for that matter, make a clear point. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
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