cover image When Aunt Lucy Rode a Mule & Other Stories

When Aunt Lucy Rode a Mule & Other Stories

Barbara Ann Porte. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06816-8

A woman entertains her nieces with a string of colorful family vignettes in this zestful picture book, a companion to Porte and Chambliss's When Grandma Almost Fell off the Mountain. Young Stella and Zelda get a charge out of hearing Aunt Lucy relate her childhood adventures, which include such wacky scenarios as the time the girls' grandmother was chased by a swarm of bees. Lucy's anecdotes are filled with larger-than-life drama and comedy that keep Stella and Zelda full of questions and on the edge of their seats. Porte liberally sprinkles the text with the kind of rich, natural phrasing associated with oral storytelling. On the lengthy side, the passages here will provide a challenge to newly independent readers, and they are still a good bet for reading aloud. Aunt Lucy's emphasis is just right, and if her train of thought is sometimes confusing to Stella, Zelda and the reader alike, it's an essential part of the fun. Sprightly watercolors depict a rambunctious family of strong women, whose animated faces radiate abundant humor and love. Ages 5-7. (Sept.)