cover image LOONY LITTLE


Dianna Hutts Aston, , illus. by Kelly Murphy. . Candlewick, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1682-3

Transplanting Chicken Little to the Arctic Circle, Aston overlays the traditional tale with an environmental theme—with mixed results. "The sky is falling" becomes "the polar icecap is melting," a conclusion the titular loon draws when a drop of water falls on her head. On her way to alert the Polar Bear Queen, she picks up a band of animal friends, each of whom spells out for readers the dire implications: " 'Suffering puffalumps!' screeched Puffin Muffin. 'If the icecap is melting, will the sea rise?' " In the end, the Polar Bear Queen saves the animals from one enemy, but shows no interest in the whole global warming issue. Loony and her friends leave determined "to find someone who will care." Loony Little asks, "Like who?" and fixes her gaze on readers; there the story ends. Murphy (The Boll Weevil Ball ) paints a lovely wilderness in soft-edged mixed media. Turquoise water, lush gray-green forests and peach-toned sunsets reflected on the snow suggest a pristine land worth preserving. The story's conspicuous agenda creates an unsatisfying, uncertain ending, and the warning about a real-world threat sits uneasily within a classic cautionary tale against doomsaying. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)