Silly Horse

Vadim Levin, Author , illus. by Evgeny Antonenkov, trans. from the Russian by Tanya Wolfson & Ta Pumpkin House $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9646010-1-7

Levin's charming collection, first published in Russia in 1969, enters the 21st century with a splash, thanks to Antonenkov's (Move Your Ears ) illustrations. The elongated people with skinny noses, pointed hats and wacky flying hair, along with eccentric animals and lopsided houses, all brim with personality (the houses sport umbrellas when it rains). At times the pictures recall Lane Smith's with their earthy hues of somber green, gray and brown and skewed perspectives. A page divided into panels tells the rollicking tale of "Jonathan Bill ,/ Who chased off the hill/ A bear in southern Peru." He also buys a kangaroo and feeds a mean bull; the contrasting banality of the punch line gives the poem its zing, and the artist plays it up with suitable melodrama. By contrast, the art in the four-line poem "Mister Snow" evokes the tranquility of a new snowfall; children stand beside wobbly brown rowhouses and a snow-covered timepiece swings from a chain in the sky. Mr. Snow himself, a top-hatted, ethereal fellow, inserts a carrot nose onto a snowman. Some poems tell absurd stories with surprise twists, illustrated using before and after pictures. Finely complemented by these inviting illustrations, Levin's humorous, memorable poems, long enjoyed by Russian children, may well become new favorites of English readers. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 05/16/2005
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Children's
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