cover image Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata: A Caribbean Story

Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata: A Caribbean Story

Phillis Gershator, Phyllis Gershator. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-316-30470-2

With their soft edges and tropical colors, Meade's ( This Is the Hat ) torn-paper collages are a joyous accompaniment to this tall tale from the Caribbean. As Gershator explains in a prefatory note, rata-pata-scata-fata ``is an old-time Virgin Islands way of talking nonsense.'' For confirmed daydreamer Junjun, however, the phrase is an incantation to be invoked whenever his chores seem too oppressive. The magic syllables seem to make all Junjun's wishes come true: he finds a fine fish without going to market, he catches the family's goat without lifting a finger and a big wind shakes a basketful of ripe tamarinds out of their tree. In the end, even Junjun's skeptical mother tries out the phrase and calls up a rainstorm to fill the empty rain barrel. Readers can decide for themselves whether Junjun simply benefits from a string of fortunate coincidences or whether his words have the power he imagines, but most will agree that there is magic in Meade's art. Her luscious palette, dynamic compositions and expertly shifting perspectives beguile the viewer. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)