cover image Madlenka


Peter Sis. Frances Foster Books, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39969-6

Incorporating many of the visually astonishing methods of Tibet Through the Red Box, S!s chronicles the adventures of a New York City girl (based on S!s's own daughter) whose loose tooth occasions a one-of-a-kind round-the-world tour. S!s reels readers into Madlenka's neighborhood using meticulous cross-hatch drawings with a pale blue-gray wash: a distant view of the earth, then a continent, then an islandDall with tiny red dotsDlead up to the title page, which zeroes in on Madlenka's building on her block on Manhattan's Lower East Side. At last, the red dot becomes distinguishable as Madlenka's blouse as she stands in the window on the fourth floor. Discovering her tooth loose, the girl runs down the three flights of stairs to spread the news. The moment Madlenka makes her announcement, ""Hey, everyone my tooth is loose!"" her block breaks out of its box-like shape and transforms into a round carousel bursting with color. Here S!s sets the rhythm for the balance of the book. Madlenka's first stop is the French bakery. A silhouette image of the heroine appears at the left of the spread, as she calls out to the baker, ""Hello, Mr. Gaston. My tooth is loose!"" S!s frames her image with a scaled-down version of the city block and a border that highlights the bakery's yields. On the right-hand side of the spread, Mr. Gaston enters his p tisserie carrying baguettes (""Bonjour, Madeleine. Let's celebrate""); through a die-cut view of a tapestry in his shop window, readers see the Eiffel Tower flying the French flag. A turn of the page reveals a spread of the Eiffel Tower surrounded by not only Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe, but also Bemelmans's Madeline and Saint-Exup ry's Little Prince. Her visit to Mr. Singh's newsstand (""Sathsariakal, Madela"") offers a glimpse of India; a stop at Mr. Ciao's ice cream truck (""Buon giorno, Maddalena""), a taste of Italy. Each of her visits sparks similar exchanges and other distant destinations, but thanks to S!s's careful buildup, the shops and their keepers retain a cozy proximity. As he did with Tibet Through the Red Box, S!s takes readers to exotic lands, yet continues to bring them back to the comfort of what they know. In Tibet, it was the father's study; here, it is Madlenka's block. When Madlenka returns home and tells her parents that she ""went all around the world,"" readers will feel that they, too, have been armchair travelers, delivered safely home in S!s's capable hands. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)