cover image LITTLE WHISTLE


Cynthia Rylant, LITTLE WHISTLECynthia Rylant<. , $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201087-4

The title character of this inaugural volume in a new series set in Toytown exerts a great deal of visual charm. Like Paddington, Bowers's (Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles) hero sports a blue coat and an irresistible hat, and will likely appeal to any child looking for a furry friend. The story, however, is old-fashioned and a bit staid. Although Little Whistle is a "real" guinea pig who lives in a cage in a toy store, Rylant (Mr. Putter and Tabby) uses the old toys-who-come-alive-at-night scenario to create his companions. Much of the virtually plotless tale serves to introduce characters that will appear in subsequent books: "There was Lion, who loved vanilla cookies.... There was Rabbit, who always wanted to run.... There was Bear, who liked hats," etc. Somewhat treacly observations dot the narrative ("Toytown was the sweetest and kindest place in the world for a small guinea pig to live"; Whistle doesn't mind when his friends are purchased, because he knows that "toys love being sold to children who care for them"), but perhaps the plot will thicken in subsequent episodes. In the meantime, Bowers's illustrations are refreshingly lighthearted and full of character, and his toys hark back to an era of handcrafting and imaginative play. The diminutive Little Whistle will endear himself to readers, whether he is blowing a trumpet or reading a book, and his black, shiny eyes look ever ready for a new adventure. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)