cover image Bonjour, Mr. Satie

Bonjour, Mr. Satie

Edward Lear, Tomie dePaola. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21782-1

When Uncle Satie, a debonair cat-about-town, comes to visit his niece and nephew, he regales the youngsters with tales of his escapades in Gay Paree. Satie ran with quite a crowd, it seems--numbering among his friends and acquaintances Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas and a host of others. (A key on the back flap identifies, rather coyly, the array of dazzling guests pictured at one of Stein's salons--Zelda F., Josephine B., James J., Isadora D. and Ernest H. Children will certainly not know--and may not care about--their famous surnames.) When a fight erupts over whether Pablo or Henri (Picasso and Matisse) is the greater artist, Satie is chosen to referee. The story, with its gentle message of individual merit and the folly of trying to judge apples against oranges, has a certain charm. The subtle shadings of dePaola's illustrations, too, are executed with considerable elan. Most of the references to the '20s and '30s notables, however, as well as the visual puns (Satie as Picasso's Blue Nude ), are aimed at a more sophisticated audience, and may go over the heads of puzzled readers. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)