cover image Great Aunt Martha

Great Aunt Martha

Rebecca C. Jones. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45257-7

Great-Aunt Martha is coming to visit, which, to this book's less-than-ecstatic narrator means that ""I had to pick up every single toy."" But that isn't the worst of it. Instead of pizza and pretzels, Mama buys fish, spinach and prune juice at the store and forces the girl to take a bath. The day Aunt Martha arrives is a total drag: when the visitor goes to her room, Mama and Papa decree a ban on watching TV, listening to music, playing with friends and frolicking with the dog-``because Great-Aunt Martha [needs] her rest.'' But the following day, when the family hears a tapping noise in their guest's room, they discover Great-Aunt Martha dancing with her cane. ""This place is too quiet! Let's make some noise and have some fun!"" declares the spirited woman, who kicks up her sneaker-clad heels and orders pizza for all. While shattering an undeserved stereotype, Jones's (Matthew and Tilly) pithy tale also offers a heartening glimpse of three-generational joie de vivre. Debut artist Jackson's illustrations are marked by vibrant colors and varied perspectives. Her characters' expressive faces convincingly move from frustration to jubilation. Ages 4-8. (June)