Kaethe Zemach, Author . Little, Brown/Tingley $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-66601-5

Zemach (The Character in the Book) finds inspiration in a 19th-century decorative art technique to illustrate a series of situational vignettes highlighting how one family smoothes the many bumps in their preschoolers' day. Employing hundreds of hand-cut stencils to paint oils on velveteen, Zemach creates pictures with a soft, almost airbrushed surface that also suggests depth. No melody is provided for this call-and-response-style "song," though the rhythm is quite musical. A mixed-race brother and sister (and sometimes their parents) take turns asking, "What are we going to do?" about problems they encounter. Family members then offer a rhyming reply. " 'My shoe came off and fell on the ground! What are we going to do?...' 'We'll pick up your shoe and put it on tight./ Then you can swing with all your might!/ That's what we will do!' " In each spread, the text on the left page curves around a circular illustration of the predicament, while vignettes of the solution enclosed in a rectangular border appear on the facing page. Delicate motifs punctuate the ribbony, rainbow-hued borders (for example, a tiny umbrella and storm cloud appear in the border of a scene of the brother moaning, "It's raining! It's pouring! What are we going to do?"). While the message is upbeat, the art is what makes this book worth a good look. Both nostalgic in their glow yet contemporary in their composition, Zemach's illustrations enfold readers in her characters' domestic dramas. Ages 3-6. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Ebook - 978-0-316-08677-6
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