Rupa, the long-suffering protagonist of this humorous poke at Old World folk tales, has initiated 21,954 sunups and needs a break. Her pre-dawn trips around the ""cookfire"" bring on the sunrise, and after so many repeat performances she has an oozing blister on her toe. For advice, Rupa visits the three turbaned village wise men, who decide to hold ""sun-raising tryouts"" to find a suitable stand-in: Can the blacksmith do it, or the goat farmer or baker? In spreads of bulbous-nosed, cartoonish characters with the text set unobtrusively in the upper regions of swirling color backdrops, Chall (Up North at the Cabin) and Litzinger (The Someday House) have come up with a quirky, warmhearted work for sophisticated readers. When weary Rupa takes center stage to rest her bare, swollen foot on the breakfast table where the elders confer--with coffee spilling and eyeballs rolling--readers will share the wise men's consternation. Chall maintains a wry tone, as when the farmer urges his goats to give milk, which he hopes will in turn bring on the dawn: ""Isabella, if you please. But she didn't. Hortense couldn't. Camilla wouldn't. No sun, no milk."" The elders' superstitious suggestion that Rupa walk around her cookfire backward to keep the sun from setting will have readers chuckling, as will Litzinger's drawing of the many stages of Rupa's dutiful orbit around the flames. While some children may find the tale confusing, its message will resonate with adults: the world goes 'round, with or without them. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998 Release date: 09/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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