Oh, No, Toto!
Katrin Hyman Tchana. Scholastic, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-46585-4
As his name would suggest, Toto Gourmand likes to eat. When Big Mami-his grandmother-undertakes a trip to the local market he is delighted to come along, and once there, the chunky toddler wastes no time in getting his first mouthful-and into his first scrape. Tchana and Pami, debut authors and sisters-in-law with firsthand knowledge of this tale's Cameroonian setting, establish a keen sense of place through the unusual foodstuffs of the market as well as the occasional use of local language. While his grandmother's back is turned, the voracious Toto scatters puffpuffs, steals an egg, falls into a barrel of palm oil, gorges on koki and cassava and, back at home, gets into the egussi soup intended for dinner. While Toto has plenty of brio, the premise of a supremely gluttonous toddler may wear thin even before Big Mami runs out of money to reimburse the merchants. Bootman's (Louise's Gift) gleaming, realistic oil paintings have colorful, solid backgrounds and plenty of detail, however, they tend to freeze the characters in stagy poses. In an amusing touch, the words ""Oh, No, Toto!"" are emblazoned behind the text on several pages. A glossary further identifies the Cameroonian foods, and the back cover provides a recipe for egussi soup. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997