cover image The Three Sillies

The Three Sillies

Steven Kellogg. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0811-8

Kellogg (Paul Bunyan; Johnny Appleseed) here serves up a rollicking farce inspired by a selection from Joseph Jacobs's 19th-century English Fairy Tales, with roots in the Brothers Grimm's ""Clever Else."" The narrative tells of a gentleman who is courting a farmer's daughter. When first the suitor's sweetheart, then her parents, disappear into the cellar one by one, he discovers the trio ""A-sobbing and a-screeching and a-swimming in the cellar full of cider"" (for quite a silly reason). He then sets out on horseback to ""find three sillies who are even sillier than you three,"" and after he does, he returns to marry the daughter. Kellogg exploits the oddball scenarios to the fullest as he portrays an old woman trying to boost her cow onto her cottage roof (""to eat the weeds that were a-growing there"") and a group of ""a-whining, a-whimpering, and a-wailing"" villagers who, spying the moon's reflection in a pond, believe it has tumbled from the sky. His riotous ink and watercolor illustrations spill over with preposterous particulars, including the antics and wisecracks of assorted opinionated animals. Presented in balloons, rhyming commentary from a boisterous chorus of townsfolk adds to the cheerful mayhem. Ages 5-10. (Nov.)