cover image Full Belly Bowl

Full Belly Bowl

Jim Aylesworth. Atheneum Books, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81033-6

Halperin's (Hunting the White Cow) sprightly, elaborately paneled illustrations set a light-hearted tone for this variation on a classic folktale motif. When an old man who lives in a cozy but meager home saves a ""wee small man"" from a fox and then helps him recuperate, he receives the gift of a ""full belly bowl."" An accompanying letter explains the rules: ""When not in use, store it upside down."" At first all is well, as the magic bowl multiplies whatever is placed in it, feeding the old man and his cat in grand style. Then the old man decides to use the bowl to multiply coins, and, excited at the prospect of untold wealth, he forgets the rule. The cottage is overrun first by mice (one crawls into the bowl), then by cats (the man multiplies his own cat to catch the mice)--and in the mayhem, the bowl breaks. Aylesworth's (Through the Night) nimble story keeps the action going, transcending cautionary tale to deliver an amusing lark. The softly shaded and meticulously drawn images have a homespun quality that underscores the story's domesticity. Multiple panels unfold the plot in a series of airy, intricate vignettes; their borders are alight with elements that echo each scene, from fruit and flowers to birds, cats and mice. Aylesworth and Halperin make a wonderful team: like the magic bowl, their talents runneth over. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)