cover image Josefina


Jeanette Winter. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201091-1

Inan expertly polished picture book, Winter (Shaker Boy) tale submerges a counting lesson within a tour of a foreign country. The author/artist imagines a day in the life of Josefina Aguilar, a real-life Mexican folk artist who makes and sells painted clay figures in a small village. Winter's Josefina sculpts the figurines in groups (""windows and doors in three clay houses, to let the sun shine in""; ""six babies for six mamas to hold,"" etc.), and the action builds toward a grand finale, with Josefina displaying her day's work as a deft count-down brings the story full circle. Readers will reinforce their command of numbers and get a taste of Mexican culture, too-all without a whiff of didacticism. As a writer, Winter has a finely tuned sense of control: as an artist, her style is unmistakable-earthy, stylized, and color-saturated, a study in daring but harmonious color combinations (pairings such as the deep plum costumes of a mariachi band set against a melon sunset fairly leap off the pages). Winter is a true original, and her latest work gives further proof of her talent. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)