The Magic Sewing Machine

Sunny Warner, Author Walter Lorraine Books $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-82747-5
Drawing from both the literary and visual traditions of folklore, Warner (Tobias and His Big Red Satchel) weaves a clever original tale. Olya and her little brother, Sacha, are forced to live in a horrible orphanage run by the evil Miss Schnaap. One night, Olya discovers that the sewing machine left to her by her mother will grant any wish. She conjures up warm clothes and bedding for every orphan, and then plots the children's escape by wishing for a big balloon. In a Wizard-of-Oz-like twist, it is Miss Schnaap who gets whisked away in the balloon while the children remain behind; with the help of villagers, they turn their home into a joyous Academy of Circus Arts (Miss Schnaap ends up happily, too). Warner's illustrations integrate a wide range of folk art conventions--a single-point perspective; repeating action; multi-panel formats; wide-eyed, elongated faces; graphic borders reminiscent of quilt patterns--to evoke the feel of a faraway time and place. But she never loses sight of the sophistication level of the reader. She uses distinctly contemporary characterization--especially when it comes to her villains--to draw them into the action. A story well tailored to its audience. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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