NOT SO TRUE STORIES: And Unreasonable Rhymes

Carin Berger, Author . Chronicle $15.95 (26p) ISBN 978-0-8118-3773-6

Eyecatching visuals will draw readers into Berger's picture book debut, a collection of nonsense poems, but incongruities and contradictions between the text and the art may disappoint the audience. The illustrations exert an immediate pull: eccentric subjects, composed of often intricate cut-paper collage and recalling the flattened, elongated scale of a Tim Burton cartoon, enact their dramas against solid-color backdrops. Thus snakes replace shoelaces in a picture of a blue high top for "Sneaker Snakes"; for "Train," passengers on a subway include a fire hydrant holding a hot dog and an umbrella, a flower carrying a bouquet, and a couple of bipedal skyscrapers. The papers Berger chooses are enticingly detailed—maps, newspapers, plaids, prints—and she festoons them with such elements as letters, words and other graphics. However the intriguing pictures often overwhelm the more pedestrian texts ("Lean little Mr. Mean/ Eats a sour tangerine/ He squishes up his pucker lips/ So Cheery Cherry gives a kiss ") or fail to illustrate them. For the snakes in the sneaker, for example, special type treatment emphasizes their "swirly green eyes," but the description does not carry through to the artwork. A "lollipop moon" in a lullaby shows up as a sun; the mood in that entry is more rock-and-roll than the titular "Rock-a-bye." Still, the imagination at work here marks this author-artist as one to watch. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/29/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
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