cover image The Man from the Land of Fandango

The Man from the Land of Fandango

Margaret Mahy, illus. by Polly Dunbar. Clarion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-81988-4

The jolly hero of the title%E2%80%94he's a round-headed, rosy-cheeked man who wears calico trousers and a "hat with a tassel and all"%E2%80%94springs from a painting created by two children and becomes the instigator of a fanciful romp. A menagerie of bouncy, music-loving animals join in, and together "they tingle and tongle and tangle/ Till tomorrow turns into today," writes the late Mahy. The merry band (which includes dinosaurs, "baboons on bassoons," a bison in lipstick and heels, a dancing bear, and kangaroos) dances through a whimsical landscape until "they stop for a break and a drink and cake/ In their friendly fandandical way." Dunbar's drawings are as lighthearted and effervescent as Mahy's wordplay and verse, and each of the watercolor and collaged spreads is a perfect little confection. If the end result isn't quite as compelling or sweetly silly as the collaborators' previous efforts, Bubble Trouble and Down the Back of the Chair, it's still an unrepentantly joyful bit of whimsy, one that exudes a sense of magic on every page. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Oct.)