The Big Bad Rumor

Jonathan Meres, Author, Jacqueline East, Illustrator
Jonathan Meres, Author, Jacqueline East, Illustrator Orchard Books (NY) $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-531-30292-7
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It's a goose, and not a boy, that cries wolf this time, but after a riotous mangling of information that brings to mind the old game of Telephone, she turns out to be absolutely right. Meres's (Somewhere Out There) story opens with the ""goggle-eyed"" goose flapping her wings furiously and announcing, ""There's a big bad wolf coming and he's hopping mad!"" As the message is passed from animal to animal (and, in one instance, to an insect), the words get twisted. At one point, a panicked fox believes Goose has said, ""He wrestled a moose and then swallowed him whole,"" a scenario depicted by East (The Very Little Leprechaun Tale) with comic gusto. Finally, ""a small, sad wolf"" appears at the animals' hiding place, much to the relief of all sequestered. But there's a kicker: right behind him is big, salivating Dad. That ending may unsettle younger readers--is the wolf going to triumph and eat the animals after all? But East's goofy cartooning keeps the mood light, and the fleeing goose's satisfaction in being able to say, ""Told you so!"" makes for an appealing, offbeat punch line. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)
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