cover image Hannah and the Seven Dresses

Hannah and the Seven Dresses

Marthe Jocelyn. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46113-5

Jocelyn's (The Invisible Day) slim story serves primarily as a vehicle to display her simple yet cheerful cloth collage art in a medley of palettes and patterns. Hannah, with her closet full of dresses handmade by her mother, breaks out in a sweat when she has to decide which to wear: ""Her face got hot. She shivered all over. Her knees went jiggly and her toes curled under."" She decides to assign a specific day of the week to each dress, then models them, one at a time; Jocelyn coordinates wall and floor coverings with each outfit. But readers never see where she goes or what she does in her dresses. At the climax, Hannah's shivers and jiggly knees return when she must choose a dress for her birthday party. When putting all the dresses on at once doesn't work, she finally decides to don pants instead. ""And from that minute until now, Hannah has never worn a dress again."" With these words, Jocelyn's rather flat tale ends on a puzzling note: The book won't hold much appeal for youngsters who have no interest in wearing dresses, and its conclusion will disappoint those who do. This volume might be all dressed up with nowhere to go. Ages 3-7. (June)