cover image Mine!


Kevin Luthardt, Author, Kevin Luthardt, Illustrator Atheneum Books $14 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-83237-6

Luthardt's honest and visually emphatic debut book uses only four words (aside from some various dog noises), but that's all the vocabulary he needs to dramatize--in the fullest sense of the word--the importance of sharing. The trouble starts when a big box arrives from Granny, addressed to brothers Toby and Marcus. ""Mine?"" wonders each boy, gleefully speculating on the contents. When the wrapping reveals a T-rex doll, the monosyllabic discourse quickly deteriorates into ""Miiiiiiiiiiiiine!"" and the stuffed toy is almost ripped to shreds in a fierce tug-of-war. Mom wordlessly but unmistakably calls a timeout, and when she calls ""Lunch,"" the boys discover that the doll has been expertly repaired. ""Yours,"" each chastened boy insists to the other. ""Ours,"" they conclude triumphantly. Luthardt understands that sharing is a high-stakes game for a young child, which is why the Grand Guignol feel of much of his book seems just right (though one wonders why Granny would send only one toy). He pairs his minimalist text with oil paintings rendered in lurid colors and strong, stark shapes. And he employs a cinematic framing that evokes film noir: when the T-rex lies ripped open between the two boys, the scene is viewed from overhead, an almost vertiginous perspective that should arouse a deliciously morbid frisson of ""Uh-oh"" from even the youngest readers. In the end, the dog gets the last laugh: it's seen running away with the toy on the endpapers. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)