Out of the Way! Out of the Way!

Uma Krishnaswami, Author, Uma Krishnaswamy, Illustrator
Uma Krishnaswami, illus. by Uma Krishnaswamy. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-55498-130-4
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At the outset of this lighthearted account of life in an Indian village, a boy carefully places rocks around a baby tree growing in the middle of a path. “Out of the way! Out of the way!” a mango seller yells. Before long, that cry has new meaning: the tree has grown so big that people must swerve to avoid it. Ox-carts give way to cars. Machines come to pave the road, “sputtering their way carefully around the tree.” Krishnaswamy’s (And Land Was Born) naïf, folk-art figures crowd the pages, selling things and carrying huge loads on their heads, while birds dart and cows wander along. Krishna-swami’s (The Grand Plan to Fix Everything) fanciful prose has an e.e. cummings feel (a crush of blobby vehicles goes “from here to there and back again”). The action can be hard to follow because it’s so diffuse; the boy grows from a young man into a silver-haired grandfather, but he is not always the focus of the story’s action. Still, it’s a rare thing: a book about generations and growth that doesn’t come across as preachy. Ages 4–7. (Apr.)
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