cover image Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble

Aunt Isabel Makes Trouble

Kate Duke. Dutton Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45496-0

The second Aunt Isabel title (the first was Aunt Isabel Tells a Good One) continues to celebrate the joys of storytelling while providing a splendid showcase for the Duke's sunny, winningly detailed watercolors of anthropomorphized animal life. This time, Aunt Isabel, an Auntie Mame- like mouse, spins a yarn concerning a famous nutball player, Lady Nell, and her efforts to visit her boyfriend Prince Augustus on his birthday. Her over-energetic niece Penelope, however, offers near-constant interjections (""But-""), just as Aunt Isabel anticipates: ""I'll start and you'll keep but-but-butting in. That way we'll make a lot of trouble for this story, and keep it full of surprises."" Lady Nell, pictured here as a grown-up version of the baseball-uniform-wearing Penelope, ends up foiling a sandwich-shop robbery planned by a gang of cockroaches and being feted by a grateful village before finally arriving at Prince Augustus's castle in the nick of time. Duke expertly juggles the two levels of narrative, vividly capturing both the what-will-happen-next excitement of the interior story, as well as the fun of creating and listening to it. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)