cover image Shamlanders


Betty Paraskevas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-292854-4

The mother-and-son team that created On the Edge of the Sea and Junior Kroll takes an entertaining journey into the phantasmagoric terrain of the mind in this latest collaboration. In rhymed verse, Betty Paraskevas chronicles the voyage of a nameless young sojourner to Nowhere Land, a vast sandscape of dunes, brilliant blue skies and benignly bizarre creatures. As he travels past strange men and stranger beasts, the boy is peered at from all corners by the shadowy Shamlanders--fantastic, business-suited creatures whose scariness is mitigated by their above-the-neck resemblance to Mr. Potato Head. Only when the hero turns the tables and peers back at the Shamlanders is he able to escape from Nowhere Land back into his own bed once more. The verse is sprightly and engaging, but doesn't scan smoothly. However, this weakness is redeemed by vibrant gouache and acrylic paintings, which exploit to the fullest Michael Paraskevas's talent for the whimsically surreal. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)