Won't You Come and Play with Me?
Mary Lee Donovan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-84630-8
Inspired by an old street rhyme, Donovan (Papa's Bedtime Story) spins a sprightly story of a boy with a list of things to do and plenty of attractive distractions. Nathan must get a haircut and then buy bread, bananas, strawberries and fish, but by the story's end, he's managed to play baseball, romp with a dog, eat a panoply of sweets, flirt with a girl, play at the waterfront--and he never does make it to the barber. Donovan captures the steady, quarter-time cadence of playground poetry: ""Into the baker's shop I go;/ I have to leave there quickly,/ for if I'm slow, my mother will say,/ my face and hands got sticky."" An exuberant refrain punctuates the verses: ""E-I-O for Willie,/ E-I-O for Willie;/ won't you come, won't you come,/ won't you come and play with me?"" With simple characterizations, cheerful colors and bold black outlines modulating invitingly soft shapes, Jabar's (Rain Song) scratchboard illustrations clearly evoke a child's sensibility. At the same time, however, her sophisticated use of perspective and composition effectively counterpoints the metronomic quality of the text. Between them, Donovan and Jabar sweep the reader into the exhilaration of a wonderful day's play. Ages 2-7. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998