cover image Puddle


Richard Jackson, illus. by Chris Raschka. Greenwillow, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-265195-2

In quirky verse with splashes of wordplay, Jackson (A Kiss for Akaraka) gives voice to the emotional life of a sensitive puddle. It’s deeper than the puddles around it (“It’s no fun/ being the deep one”), and, as the thoughtful often are, it’s self-conscious. A seagull lands in it, a sneaker stomps through it, and—worst of all—a poodle makes a pit stop. “ ‘No piddle,’ Puddle cries. ‘No, NO!’ ” But it’s too late. “Did they see,/ all the others?” it agonizes. Then something most unexpected happens, a miraculous something that makes schoolchildren on their way home stop and gaze with amazement at the puddle’s surface—one even offers the puddle a gesture of love. With bold, free strokes of watercolor and gouache, Raschka (New Shoes) paints life at puddle level, observing its surface splashed by raindrops, disturbed by pedestrians, and illuminated by what’s above it. Some objects are really in the water, while others are just reflections. Stories about worried children amid daily ordeals abound. Jackson finds a new way to say that anxiety isn’t fixed by worrying; instead, sometimes it changes into joy all on its own. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Brenda Bowen, Greenburger Assoc. [em](Mar.) [/em]