cover image Sue MacDonald Had a Book

Sue MacDonald Had a Book

Jim Tobin, James Tobin, , illus. by Dave Coverly. . Holt/Ottaviano, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-8766-6

Piggybacking this story-in-verse onto “Old McDonald” works surprisingly well in this children's book debut for Tobin and Coverly. “Sue MacDonald had a book./ A E I O U/ The words made sense last time she looked./ A E I O U.” The ponytailed schoolgirl spends the book chasing down the mischievous vowels that have escaped from her book, rendering it unreadable (the gesture toward educational content ends here—the rest is all hijinks). Cartoonist Coverly draws the vowels with Krazy Kat noses, googly eyes and miniature hands and feet. Ink and watercolor spreads alternate with vignettes, and the pace never flags. Sue's dramatic captures give her temporary superhero status: she swings through the trees, hitches a ride in a balloon and tracks through the sewer. As she pursues each vowel, Tobin adeptly highlights the letter in question in the accompanying text (as Sue rescues the “I” from an encounter with thugs in a skyscraper: “Scary climb/ nick of time,/ saved him from a life of crime”). The cartoony illustrations and smart verse make for an engaging read-aloud—or sing-along. Ages 4–7. (July)