Maranke Rinck, Author, Martijn Van Der Linden, Illustrator , illus. by Martijn van der Linden. Front Street/Lemniscaat $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-932425-15-4

In this team's gently wry debut, a series of eerily realistic animal portraits illustrate one-page profiles that tell what each character will bring to a party for the Prince. Like aboriginals at a secret dance, van der Linden's animals adorn themselves for the gathering with cowrie shells, tusk-like teeth, daubed-on paint and feathers. Painted, apparently, from inches away, the animals—despite their fantastic accessories—look real enough to touch. Van der Linden seems to delight in depicting their eyes particularly; his portraits linger on their glitter and moistness. Even children who've seen dozens of animal photographs will pause to look at these—the hyena, for instance, waits and watches with a face tattooed Maori-style; he sports a fantastic basket-woven hat from which strings of beads dangle. In each of Rinck's short vignettes (which appear on the left, with the full-bleed portraits on the right), animals uncertain of the worth of their gifts receive tender encouragement, while over-confident animals get gentle rebukes. In "The Gerbil," flowers that have refused to be picked by other creatures, give themselves to the humble rodent when he asks, "Dear flowers,... may I bring you to the party?" In a quiet moment of fairy-tale parody, the Prince turns out to be a tiny frog ("Has anyone brought what the prince wants most? Has anyone brought him a kiss?"). This creation is itself a marvelous gift to bring to any party. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 09/01/2004
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