cover image Babes in Toyland

Babes in Toyland

James Howe. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $0 (79pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200411-8

The popular operetta of the early 20th century was most recently a movie from Walt Disney. Now Howe (of Bunnicula fame) has written a hilariously villainous adaptation of the story. Alan loves Contrary Mary. Jane loves Tom-Tom. But the evil Uncle Barnabya landlord who dreams of owning Toyland, where fairytale and Mother Goose characters interactwants to kill Alan and Jane for their money and have Mary for himself. Tom-Tom tries to warn everyone of Barnaby's bad intentions. They all end up in Toyland, where wickedness has infected the land and, after a series of mixed pairings that would have Shakespeare applauding, the young couples marry and Barnaby does himself in. Toyland is saved. Atkinson's illustrations are delicately humorous, but it is the fast-paced text that carries the reader along. Howe uses flowery language, but replaces the sweet tone of the original with a tart, more pointed style. It's a feisty tale, told with punch. (8-up)