FAIR MONACO

Brock Cole, Author, Handprint, Author . Front Street $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-932425-07-9

Brock (Buttons ) creatively fuses the real and the fanciful, past and present in this affecting story that opens as three sisters arrive at their grandmother's apartment in a rundown city neighborhood. " 'Can we take a walk?' asked Maggie. 'Oh, no,' said Granny. 'It's safer inside.' " Their grandmother suggests that they have supper and go right to bed. When the oldest girl tries to distract the fretful woman by asking her to tell them "of a long time ago, when you danced with the Prince in fair Monaco," the woman begins to reminisce. "But then she forgot. Her back was bad, and her feet were bad, and her head was full or worries." She fears burglars, "bad boys" on the street and "the gasman and electricman with their terrible bills!" Cole's pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations depict cozy domestic scenes of an abode that has seen its heyday but still radiates warmth. He pictures the three siblings piling into a brass bed surrounded by antique photographs, clothing and shoes, and a full-bleed spread of a starlit urban scene signals a hint of magic. Back at Granny's the siblings suspect there are extra feet in the bed ("Witch's feet! "). The girls suddenly reappear in the bed of "granny-witch." In a montage of interconnected illustrations, the bed floats out the window, past the people Granny fears, whose images give way to the sisters' own dreams of "white sails and a fair wind,... sun rising and great birds soaring,... and tea in a garden of flowers near a house by the sea." Their dreams have a surprising effect on Granny, too. Cole's airy yet detailed illustrations successfully capture both the bustle of the city and the tranquility of the children's dreams, as well as the tale's message of hope. All ages. (Oct .)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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