A WALK IN THE RAIN WITH A BRAIN

Edward M. Hallowell, Author, Bill Mayer, Illustrator , illus. by Bill Mayer. HarperCollins/ReganBooks $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-000731-7

Psychiatrist Hallowell (Driven to Distraction ) attempts to impart a worthwhile if well-worn message in rhyming couplets. Unfortunately the story's hokey and jarring delivery significantly diminishes the impact of the moral, as does the garish artwork. Walking in the rain, Lucy encounters a bug-eyed creature who "look[s] like a lump of cold smoke" and says, "Hello, little girl, I'm a brain,/ And I'm stuck out here in the rain./ Manfred's my name, for short it's just Fred,/ And I fear that I've just lost my head." As the two go in search of Fred's missing body part, the child asks the brain to make her smart and "Fred said with a start,/ 'Everyone's smart!/ You just need to find out at what!' " He then launches into a rambling tale about a brain named Complain who coined the word "smart," equating "smart" with "best." Finally a brain called Tru counters Complain's claim, announcing, "No brain is the best!/ .../ What we need to do is explore and find all our talents galore!" Just before an eerie scene in which Fred "dive[s] into his head" to end the tale, he echoes this sentiment in equally vapid terms: "No brain is the same, no brain is the best,/ Each brain finds its own special way." Mayer's depiction of the brain characters does not differentiate among them, and the girl's nearly featureless face may creep out some youngsters. His sterile compositions do little to enliven the narrative. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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