cover image Nine Days Wonder

Nine Days Wonder

Marilyn Hollinshead. Philomel Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21967-2

Working from the diary of Shakespearean actor and merry morris dancer Will Kemp, first-time author Hollinshead gaily reconstructs a journey Kemp made from London to Norwich--dancing all the way. Though she never captures the tension attending Kemp's endeavor--suggestions that he might fail to complete the trip in 10 days, as he'd wagered, are few and thin--Hollinshead skillfully recreates the countryside and atmosphere of Elizabethan England. Her spirited text is replete with evocative expressions (``lippity-loppity''; ``dancing nonny-nonny'') and details (a bear-baiting, wifflers with sticks who keep the crowds at bay) that set the scene, and it moves with something of a dancing rhythm itself. Morgan's ( The Turnip ; The Bells of Santa Lucia ) gouache-and-ink paintings are similarly colorful and dynamic: set against the bucolic, lamb-studded landscapes is the energetic, almost vibrating Kemp, leaping in and out of the framed pictures with aplomb, sometimes accompanied by a merry maid, a stocky butcher, or even, in one of the most joyous, whimsical spreads, by two cavorting hares. Ages 4-8. (May)