ARTHUR'S TRACTOR:A Fairy Tale with Mechanical Parts

Pippa Goodhart, Author, Colin Paine, Author, Colin Paine, Illustrator , illus. by Colin Paine. Bloomsbury $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58234-847-6

Plowing his fields one day, Arthur hears an "eeek!" and attributes the noise to his tractor: "That must be the sprocket spring sprigger needing a twist and an oil." But the illustrations reveal that it is actually a biker-chick princess fleeing a dragon that has stepped on her motorcycle. The befuddled farmer, head under hood to tinker with his tractor, remains oblivious to the farce unfolding behind him. A promising start, but the visual payoff ultimately disappoints. Although Paine's frisky, squiggly-lined cartoon style sets the right tone, his color and composition may make for some confusion. Everything shares the same color intensity, so the two concurrent scenes—one involving the farmer and his tractor, the other the princess/dragon/knight—sometimes fight for readers' attention. The green beast blends in with the surrounding trees, and in one scene, the farmer's dismantling of the tractor competes with not just three almost indistinguishable vignettes of the knight and dragon wrestling, but with an odd subplot involving a frog, squirrel and wolf. However, youngsters may be willing to sift through the abundance of activity for Goodhart's snappy storytelling (peppered with amusing nonsensical expletives such as "Well, top and tail a turnip"), which concludes with the princess pairing up with the farmer, and the dragon consoling the jilted knight. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-7475-6478-2
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