cover image Sassy Gracie

Sassy Gracie

James Sage. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45885-2

Sassy Gracie helps Cook in the kitchen, but what she likes most is to stomp on the tiles in her ""big red shoes with big red heels that she loved to pieces."" On one of Cook's days off, when ""the master of the big house"" asks Sassy Gracie to prepare two chickens for a guest, Sassy roasts the chickens, but when she takes a nibble to make sure they're cooked through, she ends up devouring both birds and must concoct an excuse for her boss. On most every page, Sage (Where the Great Bear Watches) repeats the ""clunkety-clunk!"" of his heroine's footfalls. At times, the art and layout are just as clunky. Pratt lets Sassy's black locks snake out in two gravity-defying pigtails, and he gives her huge feet, the better to show off her clownish shoes. Rubbery limbs and puppetlike contortions give Sassy the girlish air of Olive Oyl. Chaotic perspectives and highly saturated colors induce a feeling of frenzy, while the type jarringly varies its format to stress the differences between narrative, dialogue and sound effect. The text would be fun as a read-aloud; unfortunately, the clamorous presentation here sours a one-on-one encounter. Ages 3-8. (June)