cover image Tukama Tootles the Flute

Tukama Tootles the Flute

Phillis Gershator, Phyllis Gershator. Scholastic, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06811-3

Children will recognize elements of such classics as Jack and the Beanstalk in this atmospheric adaptation of a folktale from the Antilles. Tukama, a ``very wild'' boy, likes nothing more than roaming far along the shoreline and ``tootling'' his flute. Accordingly, he ignores his grandmother's warning about a two-headed giant ``runnin' about here, lookin' for wild children to eat.'' When Tukama is snatched up by the terrifying creature, he relies on his wits--and his flute-playing--to save himself. The text pulses with the rhythms of island dialect and is laced with the casual asides of an oral storyteller. Debut illustrator Saint James lays down swaths of bold colors for her abstract representations. Tukama, for example, is depicted as four featureless fields of color, one for hair, another for skin, a third for his shirt, a fourth for his pants; only the occasional background receives any detail. Although some of the compositions, especially the close-ups, require scrutiny, they are informed by a lively, unfettered freedom. Glowing reds, yellows and blues will prove especially alluring. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)