Anke de Vries, Author, Handprint, Author, Willemien Min, Illustrator , illus. by Willemien Min. Front Street/Lemniscaat $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-886910-76-8

Chipper graphics soup up a familiar premise about being yourself in this picture book from a Dutch team. Grey Mouse, feeling "blue," tries to cheer herself up by painting herself different colors. When she tries green, Frog laughs at her; when she attempts polka dots, the ladybugs fly away. The plot offers one or two twists before arriving at its predictable destination: restored to her natural shade, Grey Mouse finds friends who look just like her. Min makes every stroke count in her pictures. She paints Grey Mouse's head, ears and torso as exaggeratedly large shapes, while the expressive facial features and long skinny limbs seem crayoned in, for maximum fluidity. Ample white space sets off Min's canny approach to composition. For example, Grey Mouse's head occupies most of the spread as she, butternut-colored, declares, "Yellow is not a happy color"; in the upper left corner, viewers can glimpse a bird in matching hues who does not deign to stop and play. The artist's spare use of what appear to be collage elements (a florist's patterned wrapping paper; leaves printed on textured paper) subtly quickens the visual momentum. Ages 2-6.(Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
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