cover image Thimbleberry Stories

Thimbleberry Stories

Cynthia Rylant. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201081-2

Four cozy stories lovingly chronicle the domestic adventures of Nigel Chipmunk and his friends, all of whom live on or around Thimbleberry Lane. Without heavy-handed moralizing, Rylant's (The Blue Hill Meadows) characters, all with their own appealing quirks and idiosyncrasies, accept and enjoy one another's differences. Nigel, an energetic housecleaner, breakfasts on dandelion scones with lavender tea; Copper, a butterfly, wears ornaments on her antennae; Claudius, a lazy garter snake, prefers paper plates to china; and Mudpuppy, a salamander, drinks health tonics. The characters appreciate their diversity. As Dipper, a hummingbird, says: ""Oh, I've been living in poppy gardens too long. I've forgotten not all the world is hummingbirds. That is why I moved to Thimbleberry Lane: variety."" Kneen's (Milly and Tilly: The Story of a Town Mouse and a Country Mouse) warm, cheerful illustrations complement the text with quaint settings reminiscent of Beatrix Potter's idyllic villages. For each story a different border runs along the top of the page: e.g., knickknacks for ""Little Owl Redecorates"" and lily pads for ""Mudpuppy's Picnic."" At times, both stories and pictures border on the cute and sentimental but fortunately, not enough to occlude the overall effect. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)