cover image Cynthia and the Runaway Gazebo

Cynthia and the Runaway Gazebo

Elsa Marston. Tambourine Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10282-1

The ``frail and delicate'' Cynthia demonstrates considerable pluck in this boisterous seafaring yarn. Sent off to her Great-aunt Isabelle's for a restorative dose of fresh air, the pale lass flushes with enthusiasm at the sight of a gazebo, which her aunt fondly recalls as the favorite playtime spot of her two sons, before ``they ran away to sea, so many years ago.'' A sudden storm sends Cynthia and her croquet-party guests scurrying for shelter, but the buffeted gazebo casts adrift into the raging river. The hostess attempts to bring her petulant charges to safety by summoning a neighboring vessel, which turns out to be a pirate ship. Marston invests her heroine with the comic aplomb of a beribboned Pippi Longstocking, though both the story and its telling may be somewhat arch for young readers. The added spice of salty pirate jargon (``bloodthirsty blackguards'') should prove amusing. Henstra's ink-and-watercolor illustrations, rendered primarily in pastels, also exude an urbanity that may be lost on youngsters. Still, the artwork enhances the wit of the preposterous voyage and depicts a suitably happy, oh-so-proper ending. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)