cover image Pancakes for Supper!

Pancakes for Supper!

Anne Isaacs, , illus. by Mark Teague. . Scholastic, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-64483-9

Teague's (Dear Mrs. LaRue ) vibrant, cheekily heroic paintings and Isaacs's (Swamp Angel ) fluid, folksy storytelling offer a twist to The Story of Little Black Sambo . Here the setting is a New England back when families rode horse-drawn wagons to town, and the star is a girl named Toby, all dressed up in new clothes worthy of a song ("I've got a sky-blue coat with purple lining/ A sun-yellow sweater with green leaves twining..."). But fate intervenes in an appropriately tall-tale manner. Teague depicts her being bucked off the wagon and sailing off the upper-right-hand corner of one spread, and airborne in the next ("past soaring eagles and feathery clouds"). Toby lands in the middle of the forest, threatened by five fearsome animals in turn ("Young, but ripe enough to eat!" chortles a bear. "Crunchy fingers! Crunchy feet!"). Plucky Toby, like the original hero, strikes a series of deals: in exchange for not inflicting harm, each animal gets one piece of her new clothing. A wolf struts away with the coat, a bear buys the argument that her two mittens would look fabulous on its ears. Instead of butter, the envious animals chase each other round a maple tree until they melt into maple syrup—to douse the title meal ("the grandest feast, West or East!"). Whether or not children have encountered the original tale, they'll quickly become immersed in these evocative landscapes, and deem Toby a brave heroine. Ages 3-5. (Oct.)