cover image Three by the Sea

Three by the Sea

Mini Grey, Knopf, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-375-86784-2

In this appealing yet puzzling tale, a dog, cat, and mouse share a sun-bleached cabin on a pebbly coast. "The dog tended to the garden" by digging holes. "The cat took care of the housework," shaking out a tablecloth. "The mouse looked after the cooking," preparing cheese fondue every day. One night a shifty fox arrives, toting a briefcase labeled "Winds of Change." Taking each animal aside, he questions the others' housekeeping and offers dubious gifts—a dog collar, tins of fish, and cookbooks—unsettling the peaceable group. Grey (Ginger Bear) creates conflict among bosom friends who might be perceived as natural enemies, picturing the drama in seaside shades of blue-gray and sandy gold. Skewed angles and chockablock comics panels amplify the suspense, yet nothing violent comes to pass; the fox vanishes, and the three reconcile. The conclusion brings relief and nagging questions: what motivates the fox to poison their relationship? Is this a lesson in family unity? Besides adding herbs and sardines to their diets, the characters remain essentially the same, and the utopian stasis is not wholly satisfying. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)