Rose and Sebastian

Cynthia Zarin, Author, Sarah Durham, Illustrator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-75920-2
Rose and her mother live amid the ""CHATTER BANG WHOOSH WHOOSH RING-A-LING SWISH SWISH"" of New York, but nothing makes more noise than their upstairs neighbor, Sebastian--or, as Rose pronounces it, ""martian."" Readers know from the start that Sebastian is just an older boy, but Rose needs to see him to make sure that the ""ARRGH ARRGH ARRGH"" he emits isn't coming from a monster. When the two finally meet, Rose finds Sebastian's boisterousness silly, not scary, and he indulgently plays with her; that night, Rose hears a thump from above and yells a fearless ""Goodnight, martian!"" In her first children's book, poet Zarin playfully demystifies Sebastian's loud antics and shows how Rose conquers her fear. However, the book's audience is likely to have more in common with the older child than with little Rose, whose speech consists of a simple ""Scared,"" ""Soon"" or a quizzical ""That?"" Durham, also making a picture book debut, accentuates the age difference by sketching Rose as a preschooler with a round, stick-figure's face and by portraying Sebastian as a tall, angular grade-schooler. Her unified yet ingenuous ink line drawings, colored with gouache and emboldened by jazzy patterns, fill and frame each page of the square-format book, featuring novel views (such as from the ceiling of an elevator) and whimsical flourishes. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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