Anna Alter, Author, Anna Alter, Illustrator . HarperCollins/Greenwillow $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-623936-1

Francine the fox doesn't want to get out of bed, go to school or do anything else. But nudges from her mother and her teacher propel her through the day's agenda ("She did not want to sit at the snack table, but Mr. Wendell pulled out a chair and set her a place"). By not pursuing any deeper meanings in Francine's contrariness, Alter (Estelle and Lucy) makes an important point: it's normal to have a bad day now and then, and no day is totally beyond redemption. Accordingly, the adults here do not feel obliged to cajole their charge out of her mood—and the effectiveness of their approach can be seen in the illustrations. For example, Francine does not want to go the playground at school, but when Mr. Wendell simply reassures her that it is almost time to go home, the accompanying illustration shows Francine approaching a classmate on the merry-go-round. In the first pages, Alter's somber, crosshatched watercolors may seem emotionally distant; as the story unfolds, however, the style beautifully expresses both Francine's reluctance to engage in the world, and the small but important connections she makes as the day progresses. When Francine steps off the bus and into her mother's arms, the wordless full-bleed spread makes a poignant statement about how tough it is to shake a bad mood—and the relief that comes when one finally does. Ages 3-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-06-623937-8
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