cover image The Giant Jumperee

The Giant Jumperee

Julia Donaldson, illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2797-2

Some unseen ghoul or monster is occupying Rabbit’s burrow. “I’m the Giant Jumperee,” it announces from inside, “and I’m scary as can be!” Rabbit’s pals each offer to rout the villain, but the Giant Jumperee knows exactly which anxiety button to push (Bear is told “I’ll sting you like a bee!”) and they retreat. That leaves Mama Frog, who employs the most powerful weapon in a mother’s arsenal: counting to three. Out bounces her very own Baby Frog (“Hello, Mama! I’m the Giant Jumperee!”), elated and unapologetic at having snookered the grownups. It’s as slight as a story can be, but Donaldson knows that less really can be more, and her straightforward, occasionally rhyming narration is all the setup her peerless collaborator needs. Oxenbury paints Mama Frog as a don’t-mess-with-me matriarch whose decisive physicality—hands planted on hips, belly thrust forward, eyes focused like a laser—instantly establishes her as a force to be reckoned with. That she turns a bit sheepish when her offspring is revealed to be the source of the hubbub (her look heavenward is priceless) just makes her more of a superstar. Ages 3–5. (Apr.)