cover image A Million Fish...More or Less

A Million Fish...More or Less

Patricia C. McKissack. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-80692-9

Down in Louisiana, young Hugh Thomas has heard many a tale of the extraordinary goings-on in the Bayou Clapateaux--``a mighty peculiar place.'' Given the stories of 500-pound turkeys, lamps that never burn out and snakes that take to their legs and run, it is only natural that Hugh, catching three small fish, should land ``a million more! Big ones, little ones, all sizes.'' Told with verve and a sly wit, this exuberant Bayou tale admirably captures the captivating regional cadences and comedy of the intrepid fisher boy's adventures. Each unlikely event is topped by the next, and despite the snapping 'gators and sneaky raccoons, Hugh Thomas lives to tell his tale with glee. Similarly ebullient and evocative is the Gauguinesque artwork; Schutzer's rainbow palette of thickly daubed paint both portrays and extends the absurdity and vivacious spirit behind the storytelling. This splendid collaboration is a perfect blend of two distinct styles--text and art trying to outdo each other, it seems, with joyous results. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)