cover image A PRESENT FOR MOM


Vivian French, , illus. by Dana Kubick. . Candlewick, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1587-1

French (The Thistle Princess) brings a fresh, warm delivery to a familiar premise. It is the day before Mother's Day, and Stanley, a winsome feline shown outfitted with overalls, rumpled whiskers and untied shoelaces, has yet to find a present. He questions his older siblings about their gifts and, when his brother reports that he will be giving flowers, Stanley rushes off to pick some; but by the time he returns, the petals have blown away. Further plans to duplicate his siblings' ideas fail until Stanley arrives at his own, very well-received solution: a cardboard box full of kisses. French's use of detail gives her story its individuality. When Stanley looks for money, for example, his piggy bank falls open, and "it was empty except for one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. 'Oh, no,' said Stanley, and his whiskers quivered." Kubick (Something's Coming!) evokes the sweetness of an earlier era with elements reminiscent of Mary Engelbreit: rounded, stubby bodies, props of traditional furniture and clothing, bright colors and inventive composition. Taking the place of Engelbreit's heavy patterning, though, is a healthy dose of white space and rhythmically deployed vignettes, so that the characters get all the attention they deserve. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)