Lucy Goes to the Country

Joseph Kennedy, Author, Joe Kennedy, Author, John Canemaker, Illustrator Alyson Books $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55583-428-9
This picture book promotes tolerance for gay people by putting them into the background of a caper starring a saucy cat named Lucy. A somewhat garrulous narrator, Lucy lives in the city with her two ""Big Guys"" and travels with them to the country on the weekends. At a backyard barbecue, she takes an instant dislike to a little dog, Shmoofy (""He's a rat with bad hair and an attitude to match""), and chases him up a tree. In the process, the two knock down a hive of furious bees, sending guests diving for cover, and then need firemen to rescue them from their treetop perch. Except for a reference to two female party guests who arrive with ""their daughter, Liza,"" it's up to readers to infer the human characters' relationships from Canemaker's cartoony illustrations (e.g., of two pairs of Big Guy feet sticking out from under the covers). Much of the art is overly busy and the palette seems a few notches too bright; Lucy, however, sports a wardrobe of imperious expressions and personality to burn. The best element here is a flip-book effect (made up of a series of thumbnail sketches in a bottom corner of each spread) of Lucy chasing a butterfly. But the book could do without a couple of arch jokes aimed at adults (one of the Big Guys makes eyes at a muscular fireman while his disgruntled partner looks on; a train station boasts the sign ""Peckerwood""). Ages 3-8. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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