NEVER TOO LITTLE TO LOVE

Jeanne Willis, Author, Jan Fearnley, Illustrator , illus. by Jan Fearnley. Candlewick $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2267-1

A mouse's ingenuity in the name of love is the inspiration for this sweet, if somewhat cloyingly resolved, paper-over-board novelty book. Tiny Too-Little's beloved is "way up there," writes Willis (the Dr. Xargle books), although who this adored one is and just how tall are not revealed until the very end. Determined to give his girlfriend a kiss, the mouse stacks one object on top of another in hopes of reaching her eager lips. By the time Tiny Too-Little is finished, the improbable (delicately balanced) tower includes, in ascending order, a thimble, a matchbox, a watermelon, a teacup and a cabbage, just for starters. But he always comes up short, "even on tiptoes." Fearnley's (Watch Out! ) winsome watercolors effectively convey the precariousness of the mouse's endeavor, as well the sweet-natured yearning that drives him. The main visual attraction here is a series of cutaway pages, which enable readers to watch the list of items accumulate on the left hand side of each spread, while new levels of the tower emerge in the mounting drawing on the right. When the tower inevitably collapses, love still conquers all (a comely giraffe bends down to give him a "great big kiss" in a picture with a soupçon of three-dimensionality). Willis's concluding statement seems unnecessary; the blissful post-kiss couple pictured at the end says it all. Ages 3-up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 12/01/2004
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