cover image Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman

Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman

Maira Kalman. Viking Children's Books, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82945-3

While watching a performance of The Mikado , Alexander suggests to his older sister Lulu that perhaps they should visit Japan. Lulu, eager to avoid her piano lesson and her teacher, the dreaded Mrs. Kackleman, is only too happy to agree. The two arrive in Tokyo (without parents, you understand), and are bundled off in a red taxi driven by a gloved man with ``sharp black hair.'' Images of houses and people, food and customs jumble together in a wild stream-of-consciousness travelogue that springs from the minds and lips of the irrepressible brother and sister. A man sitting on a park bench and a frog in a kimono reciting a haiku are as riveting as a visit to a Japanese school or communal bath house. The book is studded with many gems from the mouths of Lulu and Alexander, like the poem dedicated to their guide: ``Hey Hiroko, are you loco? Would you like a cup of cocoa?'' The unique and provocative illustrative style evidenced in Hey Willy, See the Pyramids flourishes in this new work, demonstrating a graphic brilliance that is fast becoming Kalman's hallmark. Her carefully orchestrated yet extravagantly kinetic paintings are crammed with details and characters ready to spill off each page. All ages. (Oct.)