ELLA'S GAMES

David Bedford, Author, Peter Kavanagh, Illustrator , illus. by Peter Kavanagh. Barron's $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7641-5583-3

In this tale from a British team, Ella the mouse confronts a problem as old as the family itself: older siblings who shut younger siblings out of their games. But by regaling her big brothers with made-up adventures inspired by commonplace things, Ella dismantles their objections one by one (that she's too timid, too small, etc.) and wins an invitation to join them. A dandelion, for example, becomes a tickling tool used to rescue an imaginary elephant from the mud: "I tickled his nose with a feathery flower, and he sniffed and snuffled and sneezed his way out." Kavanagh's amiable, pastel-hued watercolors lack any distinctive characterization (in fact, all of the mice's expressions stay virtually the same from beginning to end), and the visualization of Ella's fantasies feels muted. But the chipper text fills in the gaps, and readers should enjoy spotting all the things the mice have scavenged from humans in the name of domestic comfort (their bathtub is made from a margarine container). The book ends on a rousing note, with Ella firmly in charge of a pretend pirate adventure aboard a pot of honeysuckle, her ascendancy in the pecking order now assured. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Genre: Children's
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