cover image The Great Redwall Feast

The Great Redwall Feast

Brian Jacques. Philomel Books, $21.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22707-3

The creator of the Redwall series turns his hand to verse for this rambling illustrated story featuring the animals of Redwall Abbey: ""Lots of woodland creatures/ and all the Abbeymice/ were planning in secret, a marvelous feast/ for their abbot. Now wasn't that nice!"" Their only problem is to hide the preparations--fortunately if enigmatically, the old Abbot proposes a ""Quest for a Bobbatan Weary Nod"" and, along with a few friends, absents himself with a walk in the woods. Meanwhile at the Abbey, as text and art show in equally amusing fashion, the hedgehogs decant barrels of fruit juice, the mice and hares bake and ice cakes, otters prepare hot root soup, and the molechild Bungo raids the food. When the questers return, the Abbot feigns suitable surprise, but the anagram contained in his odd quest reveals that he knew all along (""Abbot's Banquet, Ready Now""). Denise (The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship) creates an animated collection of cozily rustic critters, Beatrix Potter-like in their mix of animal appearance and human habits. But in spite of the thoroughly jovial tone, the book, like the Abbot's quest, is long and excursive, returning to its beginning instead of advancing, and the verse is occasionally clumsy. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)