cover image Let’s Have a Tree Party!

Let’s Have a Tree Party!

David Martin, illus. by John Manders. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-

As every host knows, a successful party is as much a matter of venue as it is the mix of guests and food. So when Grandpa Crow decides to hold a high altitude soiree—“What could be better than friends together at a party in a tree?”—everybody comes, from Baby Bear to “Ten slimy slugs.” The fun doesn’t stop once the sun goes down: when it turns dark, nocturnal animals arrive to “light this tree” both literally and figuratively. Martin’s (Little Bunny and the Magic Christmas Tree) rhyming text has a hard-to-find meter, and the language can feel fusty (“Then just in time for hungry tummies,/ bluebirds came with yummy yummies”; he also rhymes “pizza” with “eat-za!”). But Manders’s (Pirates Go to School) pictures are winners page after page. The full-throttle characterizations and exuberant physicality are reminiscent of vintage animation, while the ever-shifting perspectives give the action a gleefully frenetic, cinematic feel (one particularly impressive spread looks up into the tree as the animals bunny-hop across a branch). Thanks to Manders, these critters really are the very picture of party-hearty. Ages 2–5. (Mar.)