cover image MINN AND JAKE


Janet S. Wong, , illus. by Geneviève Côté. . FSG/Foster, $16 (146pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34987-5

This breezy free-verse novel introduces memorable characters in recognizable situations. Spunky Minn, who is "pigtailed/ and lizardy/ and an only child/ the only only child in her class," recently lost her best friend to another girl. And as for the kindergarten-size new kid, "Jake knows/ everyone is staring at him/ because he is so short,/ and maybe also/ because he has a new spiky haircut/ that he never asked for/ that makes him look/ like a baby crow." As the two protagonists struggle to make friends, Minn tries to teach the cowardly Jake to catch lizards, while Jake shows Minn how to make a fast buck. Throughout, the cast of fifth-graders teases and gossips convincingly. Fans of Wong should not expect the refined and literary poetry of her Night Garden; these prose-like entries will invite quick, light reading. Côté's b&w illustrations achieve unusual dimension. Incorporating what seem to be collage elements, her strikingly graphic compositions mirror the deceptive ease of the verse narration. Ages 7-10. (Aug.)