cover image The Puddle

The Puddle

David M. McPhail, Sally Brown. Hyperion Books for Children, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36148-8

This delectable rainy-day adventure showcases McPhail's singular ability to blend fantasy and reality. Through a series of whimsical watercolor vignettes, he traces a boy's outing one drizzly afternoon to a puddle where he sails his toy boat. Though the little fellow heeds his mother's warning to stay out of the water himself, he gets wet nevertheless, thanks to a menagerie of fun-seeking visitors bent on splashy fun (including a pig in an inner tube and an elephant that swells with each sip of water). The little skipper navigates readers into the world McPhail evokes, that dreamy realm of the imagination that exists beyond the safe boundaries of home, a place where talking frogs and alligators are expected. The illustrations--with their rain-misted setting, edges softened and gentle colors melting together like sidewalk chalk after a spring shower--further illuminate that magical province. McPhail's tale, a winning effort in all regards, comes to a particularly satisfying close: home at last, the soggy boy finds his mother has drawn him a hot bath--and he can bring his boat. Picture books just don't get much cozier. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)