cover image Hooray for Grandma Jo

Hooray for Grandma Jo

Thomas McKean. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57842-1

In his picture-book debut, McKean ( The Haunted Circus ) adopts that classic Mr. Magoo-style comedic device--poor eyesight. Grandma Jo, who's expecting a visit from her grandson Lloyd, loses her glasses in a pot of stew. She is henceforth unable to read a letter canceling Lloyd's visit, much less the newspaper that warns, ``Angry Lion Escapes!'' Needless to say, Jo goes to the train station, recognizes ``Lloyd'' by his coat's ``fluffy collar,'' and leads him outside as horrified commuters watch. At home, Jo plies the lion with ice cream, plays hide-and-seek with him and helps him into the real Lloyd's spare pajamas. The case of mistaken identity is resolved; a tidy and kindhearted wrap-up, wherein the lion proves not to be ``mean'' but merely to have a weakness for ice cream, concludes matters on a cheerful note. Demarest's ( Lindbergh ) squiggly, loose line drawings, filled in with splashy watercolors, affectionately depict the lion's transformation from surly to content. But perhaps the book's strongest suit is McKean's pert anticipation of the reader's questions (when Grandma Jo drives to the train station, for instance, ``She knew the way by heart. That's why she could get there without her glasses''); these well-tuned overtures to the audience supplement a tried-and-true plot. Ages 4-8. (May)