cover image When I Was Little Like You

When I Was Little Like You

Jill Paton Walsh. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87608-2

In this quiet tale, a seaside stroll prompts young Rosie to point out various sights, which trigger a series of recollections by her grandmother. When Rosie sees a diesel train speeding through the valley (""Look Gran. Look at the train, Gran""), for example, Gran tells her, ""When I was little like you, a steam engine pulled the cars. It made little homemade clouds as it puffed round the point."" After a few more vignettes (the phrases, ""Look Gran, look at [that], Gran"" and ""When I was little like you,"" recurs in each), Rosie understandably wonders whether ""you like the world better, Gran, the way it was when you were little like me?"" While Walsh (Goldengrove; Unleaving) has some lyrical descriptions (Gran remembers buying ""a brace of bright mackerel for supper,"" right off the boat, ""still fresh and shining""), her prosaic subject matter lacks the drama and drive to hold the target audience's interest--and the two characters' refrains quickly wear thin. Lambert (Connie Came to Play) renders the world in geometric shapes in citrus orange, spring green and blueberry colors, and his gauzy surfaces help to create the overall mood of reminiscence. Yet he offers no stylistic differences between the past and the present (even the clothing of the two eras looks the same), which makes it difficult to decipher any visual distinctions between the two time periods. Ages 2-6. (Nov.)