cover image Isabela's Ribbons

Isabela's Ribbons

Satomi Ichikawa. Philomel Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22772-1

Gaily patterned watercolors packed with playful details make this book a joy to behold-the story, unfortunately, is downright confusing. Isabela is known throughout her lush island town for her collection of hair ribbons; her other passion is for hide-and-seek. The ubiquitous green foliage provides Isabela with a perfect cover, and the vivid fruits and flowers camouflage her ribbons (this premise occasions some of Ichikawa's prettiest work). But Isabela lacks friends her own age. One day, after challenging a parrot to find her in a drab mango tree, she cunningly ties distracting ribbons among the leaves. As she waits, Isabela loses herself in a daydream-the tree becomes ``deep sea, and the ribbons were fish of every color!'' The fantasy suddenly evaporates as a flock of children materializes below the tree, and Isabela uses her ribbons to entice them to find her. The transitions here are blurred-what does the undersea interlude have to do with the appearance of the children? The underdeveloped prose grounds readers from plunging into Isabela's reverie. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)