cover image Fair!


Ted Lewin. HarperCollins, $16.5 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12850-0

With memorable paintings marked by the same clarity and vivacity as those he created for Market!, Lewin sets another diverting scene, this time at a county fair. Beginning with the elaborate set-up to the inner workings and ending with what appears to be a nearly instant shutdown of the fair, the artist seamlessly shifts his focus from convincing close-ups (the hooded heads of newly shorn sheep, the triumphant faces of youngsters receiving blue ribbons) to panoramic vistas (a midway crowded with color, pastel-hued fireworks exploding in the night sky). Despite its appealing, folksy tone, the narrative stumbles in spots: descriptions of the fair's amusements, foods and displays too often read as dry listings, and there are some awkward uses of the passive voice (""Even if no prize is won, everyone takes pride in a job well done""). But Lewin's exuberant double-page watercolor spreads provide ample compensation, making this visit to the fair worth the price of admission. A pleasant companion to Elisha Cooper's more intimately observed Country Fair (reviewed May 26). Ages 5-up. (Aug.)