The Lady's Chair and the Ottoman

Noel Tennyson, Author Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-688-04097-0
Eccentric black-and-white pictures upholster this finely crafted story, written with originality, sensibility and charm. Quite surprisingly, it's a story about furniture that raises several thought-provoking and witty questions: What would you do if you were a chair or an ottoman placed (or misplaced) as part of a setunable to move by yourself? What if you were sold, purchased, auctioned, thrown out, trampled on, deposited in junk shops or in storerooms with common stepladders and packing crates? The red-velvet ottoman, though equipped with brass wheels, cannot get one inch closer to the chinaberry leaf-covered lady's chair until Duncan Fiefe, an artisan and antique-store owner, removes its velvet cover and discovers the woebegone object's real identity. It's a moving drama of separation and reunion, of powerlessness and of the blindness and exhilaration of chance occurrences. Tennyson's story is crowded with minor dramatic characters: an arrogant pair of stuffed armchairs, a wise and kind grandfather clock who wakes himself up from naps, an impolite stepladder and a restored Victorian loveseat who says of Duncan's work, ""If that's not art, then I'm a hideaway bed.'' The illustrations reveal the subdued mood of this remarkable world of interiors. Visual referencesto a wind-up toy, a gramaphone, real animals (mice, rats, a cat and a dog) and peopleallow Tennyson to depict what she doesn't state outright in the text, adding to the story a fitting and uncluttered set of pictorial allusions that will enrich and delight any who enter these rooms. With expressive illustrations and a sensitive wit, Tennyson's elegant debut will leave no reader unmoved. Ages 5-8. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-688-04098-7
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