cover image The House in the Sky: A Bahamian Folktale

The House in the Sky: A Bahamian Folktale

Robert D. San Souci. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1284-3

A pair of brothers share one trait: a disinclination toward work. Clever Rabby provides for his family by looting food from the spirit-folk whose well-stocked house floats in the sky. Given the right commands, the house descends and its door opens. Privy to the passwords, Rabby times his break-ins to coincide with the absence of the inhabitants-hairy, claw-handed creatures with backward feet. But when bumbling Boukee adopts his brother's scheme, he is distracted by his greed and nearly trapped in the spirit house. After his lucky getaway, the spirit-folk wise up, the food source dries up and the reformed brothers take to growing their own comestibles. As he explains in an author's note, San Souci (The Talking Eggs) mixes traditional Bahamian story elements, then gives his telling the rhythmical inflections of native dialogue (``Why you didn't come for me at day-clean?'' Boukee asks Rabby). Through animated facial expressions and lively gestures, Clay's (Little Eight John) acrylic paintings supercharge the well-crafted text. However, his literal interpretation, especially of the gruesome-looking spirit-folk, diminishes his work's staying power. An innocent, jovial romp in the thrill of devilish trespass. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)