On a White Pebble Hill CL

Chyng Sun, Author, Chi-Hsein Chen, Author, Chih-Sien Chen, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $14.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-395-68395-8
This forced, unconvincing fantasy from the creators of Square Beak begins with a small girl playing on a ``hill full of white pebbles.'' She swims in a lake, clambers out and enters a car, dodges falling rocks, climbs a mountain. The final spread makes explicit what the pictures have increasingly hinted at: the strange landscape is a dinner table, the girl's adventures her fantasies as she contemplates the setting. However childlike, these musings lose their vitality in this attenuated presentation: the revelation of their source is an anticlimax rather than a culmination. Throughout, the text is choppy and mystifying, rather than dreamy and mysterious, as must have been the intent. Chen's primitive paintings suggest the transformative powers of the imagination--as the story progresses the representations of several foods become more clearly discernible--but their simplicity often borders on crudeness and they can be ambiguous to the point of mere vagueness (are the white pebbles rice? potatoes?). Driven by an overly intellectualized concept, this book is so self-consciously about flights of imagination that it remains earthbound itself. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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