THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A BOOT

Linda Smith, Author, Jane K. Manning, Illustrator , illus. by Jane Manning. HarperCollins $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-028691-0

The late Smith (Mrs. Biddlebox) imagines life next door to the woman and her brood who lived in the shoe. It's no fun at all, according to the neighbor and eponymous boot-dweller, who "didn't like anything little or cute" (and whose bulbous nose and prominent chin emphasize her hag-like qualities). Fed up with the "clattering, chattering, clamoring crew" next door, the crone tries to bewitch the children into a permanent sleep with some Kiddie-Be-Gone that she buys at a witch's lawn sale. Instead, the stale potion turns the children into elderly kvetches. "They demanded a plate./ They complained as they ate." Maybe being surrounded by lively children isn't so bad after all, reasons the old woman, and a dose of Kiddie-Come-Back makes it so. Manning's (The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches) bucolic, shoe-dotted landscape displays a fine sense of fancy, and the dense acrylic compositions work well as individual set pieces—the children-turned-geezer scenes are particularly funny (and should strike a chord with youngsters who've been secretly appalled by an elderly relative). But visually, the book gathers little visual momentum. It's up to Smith to build the dramatic tension, which she does expertly with cliffhanger page-endings, rhetorical questions and bouncy, nursery-style rhymes. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-06-623746-6
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