cover image Some Fine Grampa!

Some Fine Grampa!

Alan Arkin. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021533-0

When her aging Grampa comes to live with Molly and her family, he tells outlandish stories that, to her parents' chagrin, Molly believes wholeheartedly. Tipping his hat to the likes of tall-tale-teller Daniel Pinkwater, actor Arkin's (The Clearing) lengthy narrative is one in which the fantastic is the norm. In this world, sweater-knitting, French-speaking polar bears, moon-men and literate bees populate not only Grampa's amazing tales but, it emerges in the end, reality as well. Yet underlying the humor are concern and fear. Unlike Molly, her parents interpret Grampa's stories as signs that ``his mind is wandering.'' Alzheimer's is suggested (Grampa often gets lost and forgets things). But the ending, which exonerates Grampa in a birthday bash attended by the polar bears et al., dismisses the substance, so that neither the light nor serious aspects of the story seem well served. Zimmer's (The Cow Is Mooing Anyhow) crowded, offbeat art, with its elfin characters and childlike interpretations of Grampa's antics (signed ""art by Molly""), goes for the laughs without going over the top. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)