cover image The Noisy Giants' Tea Party

The Noisy Giants' Tea Party

Kate McMullan, Jim McMullan. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205017-5

To open this book is to enter a surreal dreamscape, in which a bizarre logic--built on puns, hyperbole and wild associations--reigns. The springboard for the dream is the ruckus made by Andrew's hamsters in their cage, and by vehicles and passersby in the street below the boy's window. In his fantasy, the hamsters become human hosts at a raucous party, shattering glass on a tavern door becomes the breaking of china cups, a jackhammer becomes a vacuum cleaner's roar. The onomatopoetic text cleverly picks up the garbled, magnified quality of nighttime noise--``Shoosh yo blint!'' ``Thug-a-whomp! Chomp!''--and moves with the insistent energy that drives particularly intense dreams. The illustrations, some of which feature slightly '40s-style characters, capture this energy and then some: the action is totally uninhibited, the features and perspectives exaggerated and distorted. The dream-images, painted in bold strokes and vivid hues, dominate the page; beneath them is the street, rendered in controlled monochromatic lines. The juxtaposition is a choice one, allowing readers to trace specific stimuli for Andrew's dream and to consider more generally the complex, strangely wonderful transformations the unconscious works on us in our sleep. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)