cover image Stella Louella's Runaway Book

Stella Louella's Runaway Book

Lisa Campbell Ernst. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81883-7

From the start of this cheerful cumulative tale, Ernst (Bubba and Trixie) gives youngsters crowded spreads chock-a-block with amusing particulars. Cereal spills from an overturned box, macaroni tumbles out of the cupboard and a marmalade-hued cat takes refuge in the arms of Stella Louella's father as the girl feverishly tears apart the kitchen in search of her missing library book--due by five o'clock that day. She consults her brother, Sam, who left it by the mailbox, which leads her to their letter carrier, who picked it up with the mail and left it at the house on the corner. He then joins the growing search party, which continues to increase as each person Stella queries directs her to someone else. The parade eventually winds its way to the library with just five minutes to go, where the kind librarian announces she had already found the book--on a bench outside the building. Aside from the bustling cartoon artwork, what distinguishes this rather predictable tale is the spectrum of voices Ernst works into her narrative. Each character chimes in a reaction to the book based on his or her occupation or interest and simultaneously offers clues to its identity. The back cover and front flap carry a clever rubber stamp-like message: ""Whatever you do, don't lose this book!"" Ages 4-8. (Sept.)