ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE

Kevin O'Malley, Author, Carol Heyer, Illustrator, Scott Goto, Illustrator , illus. by O'Malley, Carol Heyer and Scott Goto. Walker $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8027-8947-1

Three artists with distinct styles combine efforts for this rollicking story, which takes on the topic of gender differences with humor and insight. O'Malley's (Cinder Edna ) cartoon-like boy and girl, their words appearing in thought balloons, present a library project. "I'll begin the story," says the girl. "My beginning is better, but go ahead," the boy responds, hinting at the book's tensions from the get-go. Heyer (The First Easter ) illustrates the girl's story of Princess Tenderheart in flowing purple and pink robes, as she plays with her "eight beautiful ponies" (e.g., Jasmie, Nimble, Sophie, etc.). Her favorite was Buttercup, the girl reports from the bottom left-hand corner of the framed illustration; the boy, on the opposite corner, chagrined and somewhat panicked, says, "Please... don't call him Buttercup. Call him Ralph or something." After a giant steals the ponies and the weeping princess spins straw into gold, the boy directs the proceedings ("That's it... I can't take it anymore," says he). Goto's (Heat Wave ) full-bleed spreads in garish hues signal a change in tone: "One day this really cool muscle dude rides up to the castle on his motorcycle." Naturally, the girl objects to this line of development. The story then becomes a collaborative effort (all three artists' styles appear on each page), as the two resist confining their characters to stereotypes. Entertaining and sophisticated, this book would make a great conversation starter about issues of gender stereotyping, and the benefits of teamwork. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/21/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-8027-8949-5
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