cover image Rainy Morning

Rainy Morning

Daniel Manus Pinkwater. Atheneum Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81143-2

At first, this tale offers nothing but dismal weather and a polite couple, Mr. and Mrs. Submarine, breakfasting on corn muffins. Their cat bumps at the window and comes in from the rain, and their dog follows suit. Peculiarities arise when Mr. and Mrs. Submarine take pity on a wet horse, coax a shy coyote indoors and welcome 10 chickens, who sit ""as far as they could get from the coyote."" The ante climbs when Ludwig van Beethoven appears on the lawn (""`Oh, invite him in!' Mrs. Submarine said. `He is my favorite composer'""). Beethoven justifies the German phrase translations that appear on the copyright page, yet the musical legend doesn't treat his hosts to a performance, not even when the U.S. Marine Band arrives. Instead, the assembly just ""ate corn muffins and drank tea in the warm cozy kitchen until the sun came out."" Jill Pinkwater (Buffalo Brenda), who illustrates in noisy-bright felt-tip markers, uses medium-to-thick strokes to create flat images. This process allows for wildly colorful patterns but results in lumpy, ungraceful shapes. Especially in the crowd scenes, fine lines seem necessary; as it is, only a few of the chickens and crows fit in the jam-packed, visually muddy closing spread. Daniel Pinkwater (Doodle Flute) achieves sublime ridiculousness by showing the Submarines' limitless hospitality. Although a slapstick finale for this wet day seems in the offing, the author opts for dry wit: nothing happens, despite the volatile mix. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)