ANTONIO ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, GETTING SMALLER

Malachy Doyle, Author, Richard A. Spinello, Author, Carll Cneut, Illustrator , illus. by Carll Cneut. Candlewick $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2173-5

With a straight face and even tone, Doyle (Jody's Beans) unspools an outlandishly picaresque plot. Antonio has been visiting his Gran on "the other side of the world," amusing himself with such pursuits as "tossing jam sandwiches to the snippy-snappy sea monsters," when he inexplicably begins to shrink. Gran decides he's missing his mother, so she sends him on his way. Still shrinking, Antonio works his way home—as a cabin boy on a ship (the picture of him swabbing the deck, no bigger than the bucket of suds, is not to be missed), manning the whistle for a train driver and taming a cowboy's wild horse. Cneut's (The Amazing Love Story of Mr. Morf) acrylic paintings present a world filled with circus-like energy and whimsy, which includes lush gardens of junglelike proportions, a train of Victorian-style coaches overloaded with quaintly dressed people, and Antonio's hefty mother herself as she prepares him a feast of monumental proportions. By the time Antonio reaches his own side of the world, he is as small as Stuart Little, but his mother's bounteous food and the comforts of home restore him to his regular size. While the story may owe a debt to the similarly themed George Shrinks or The Shrinking of Treehorn, the distinctive illustrations lend it a unique appeal. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/29/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
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