Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One

Kate Duke, Author
Kate Duke, Author Dutton Books $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-44835-8
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-14-050534-4
Prebound-Other - 1 pages - 978-0-606-07215-1
Prebound-Glued - 34 pages - 978-0-7857-6457-1
Prebound-Other - 978-0-7807-5253-5
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Aunt Isabel is delighted to have her niece Penelope spend the night, and a made-to-order story is part of the package. Asking for guidance from Penelope along the way, Isabel weaves a story of a handsome prince and the enigmatic Lady Nell who can ``fiddle like a cricket, sing like a dove and wiggle her ears.'' Isabel may ask for help, but she is clearly in charge here, insisting on ``a little Danger'' and ``Villains'' to flesh out her tale. No passive heroine awaiting the prince's marriage proposal, Nell tackles adversity in fine fashion. In a stylistic departure for the gifted artist ( The Guinea Pig ABC ; Roseberry's Great Escape ), fanciful mice--somewhat reminiscent of Helen Craig's illustrations for the Angelina books--take the spotlight here, and the delicate watercolors brim with fairy-tale characters and atmosphere. Especially appealing are the artwork's winsome borders, adorned with tiny, appropriate decorative touches--sandwiches in the frame's corners when Nell is following a trail of crumbs, for example. Though the running conversation between narrator and Penelope at times detracts from the action, the diverting story-within-a-story is an inviting opportunity for youngsters to double their fun. Ages 4-7. (Feb.)
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