THERE'S A BILLY GOAT IN THE GARDEN

Laurel Dee Gugler, Author, Clare Beaton, Illustrator , illus. by Clare Beaton. Barefoot $14.99 (29p) ISBN 978-1-84148-089-3

Beaton's (Mother Goose Remembers) trademark felt appliqués punch up this Puerto Rican variant of a familiar folktale. A series of animals, each bigger than the last, tries to dislodge a billy goat from a garden. When a bee buzzes up to the plate, the other animals scoff at him: "But you're tiny," they laugh. Brains win out over brawn, as the threat of a bee sting ultimately drives out the goat. Gugler (Muddle Cuddle) employs a solid, repetitive, rhyming structure that may entice the very young (the rooster "flutters all about./ But that huffy, gruff old billy goat/ will not come out!"; the dog "yip-yaps" all about, "But that haughty, naughty billy goat/ will not come out!; etc.). Beaton's art expands the story dynamically. She gives the goat a motive (he is busy eating the clothes hanging on a line) and her up-close compositions usher readers to a ringside view of the action. Her felt collages are meticulous as ever, with strategic stitchery suggesting, for example, the mortar between bricks or the separate locks of a child's head of hair. Beads (e.g., for the apples in a tree, the animals' eyes) and buttons (wheels on a tractor) join layered fabric in adding dimension and visual interest. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Genre: Children's
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