cover image THE NEAT LINE: Scribbling Through Mother Goose

THE NEAT LINE: Scribbling Through Mother Goose

Pamela Duncan Edwards, , illus. by Diana Cain Bluthenthal. . HarperCollins/ Tegen, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-623970-5

Mother Goose meets Harold and the Purple Crayon in this latest from Edwards (Some Smug Slug ) and Bluthenthal (I'm Not Invited? ), who introduce a scribble that starts out as a baby and grows up to help some nursery rhyme characters in distress. The opening illustration shows a small, curlicue line in a bassinet, but by several pages later, it has hopped into a book where it morphs into a horn for Little Boy Blue and "a pathway leading up the hill" for Jack and Jill. Parents will recognize various stages of children's writing development in a spread of a doodled-on scrap-paper collage; opposite, a lined sheet of writing paper records the scribble's sequential efforts at writing the sentence, "I am a neat line." ("The scribble practiced/ and practiced/ and practiced/ on as many pieces of paper/ as it could find,/ and one day/ it grew up to be/ a Neat Line .") Bluthenthal endows the thick black line, highlighted in yellow, with personality; it curves into a smiley face at one end and even seems to register surprise when it encounters Little Miss Muffet, scared by a spider. The illustrations create a book-within-a-book effect, as the line hops from rhyme to rhyme amid a mix of collage and colored pencil artwork. This straightforward tale is also comforting in its predictability and its message of kindness. Ages 4-7. (May)