cover image Mary Had a Little Lamb

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Sarah Hale. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06875-5

Mavor (The Way Home) presents the most polished example yet of her intricate fabric relief art in this endearing version of the familiar childhood song. Informative concluding notes explain the debate over the authorship of the 19th-century verse (at least some of which is generally credited to Hale), and mention the diverse techniques-among them applique, embroidery, wrapping, dyeing and soft sculpture-that comprise Mavor's extraordinary medium. Finely reproduced color transparencies capture the art's three-dimensional quality, which Mavor achieves by incorporating such materials as stuffed cardboard shapes, wrapped wire, beach stones and a wide variety of fabrics. The artist manages to make her human figures-Mary, her family, teacher and classmates-surprisingly lifelike, and she fills her outdoor and indoor settings with remarkable detail. Perhaps the clearest star of this pleasant book is one perky, woolly lamb (with fleece made of fine yarn tied into tiny French knots) which, whether gamboling after its mistress or peeking out from under her school desk, seemingly begs to be cuddled. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)