cover image MARSUPIAL SUE


John Lithgow, , illus. by Jack E. Davis. . S&S, $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84394-5

Lithgow (The Remarkable Farkle McBride) follows his successful debut with another musically inspired tale, which dances in waltz rhythm through Davis's (Music Over Manhattan) cleverly drawn illustrations. This whimsical song-set-to-pictures features malcontented Marsupial Sue, unhappy because kangaroo-hopping "rattled her brain" and "gave her migraine, a back ache, side ache and tummy ache, too." So the Birkenstock-clad kangaroo sets off to find kindred spirits among other Australian animals. (Though all she finds is howling pain when she falls out of the koalas' tree and "typhoid, pneumonia, colic, and gout" from her seaside dallying with the platypuses.) "Marsupial Sue,/ A lesson or two:/ Be happy with who you are./ Don't ever stray too far from you," the refrain warns each time her wanderings result in turmoil. Not until she flounces and jounces with the wallabies ("Exactly like her only not quite so tall") does she realize she's happy after all doing what kangaroos do, though no explanation is given of why hopping no longer bothers her. Davis's charming illustrations, rendered in colored pencil, acrylics and ink, are full of personifying characteristics (wallabies in headphones and sunglasses on birds) that entertain on their own merit. Lithgow's ebullient encore (companion CD included) will strike a positive note with book and music lovers alike. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)