cover image Dark Cloud Strong Breeze

Dark Cloud Strong Breeze

Susan Patron. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06815-1

An insistently rhythmic rhyme and Catalanotto's splendid paintings describe what happens on a rainy day in a small town when a girl's father locks his keys in the car. As the father tries to jimmy the door with a coat hanger, his daughter makes friends with nearby shopkeepers and animals: ``Dark cloud brisk breeze / `Hey, Mister Locksmith, will you help us, please?' / `Yes,' says Locksmith, clicka-me clong / `If you get me a guard, both brave and strong.' '' The made-up, onomatopoeic phrases in Patron's ( Burgoo Stew ) bouncy couplets become a bit cloying; the book demands, somewhat too forcefully, to be read aloud. Overlaid on each black-and-white spread of the street activities is a full-color closeup that zooms in on the girl's endeavors to help, which result in the participation of dog, grocer, cat and butterfly. Despite Catalanotto's ( Mr. Mumble ) unique design, the sequential connections in the verse do not always make clear the connections between the plot and the disparate characters. The ending comes full circle as the pair returns home: the father has lost his house key, but the girl, mercifully, supplies her own. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)