cover image Albidaro and the Mischievous Dream

Albidaro and the Mischievous Dream

Julius Lester. Dial Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1987-3

In this offering from a talented duo (Black Cowboy, Wild Horses), teddy bears inadvertently set off a chain reaction when they slip to their young owners a dream promising that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, without punishment. Albidaro (the mythical ""Guardian of Children"" who lives in the sky) then uses the dream to get even with his snooty sister Olara (""Guardian of Animals"") by planting it in the minds of the animals. The next morning, children balk at their parents' requests while animals shed their leashes and flee their cages and homelands to wear pajamas, eat popcorn on the couch and surf the Internet. Ironically, the animals on the loose turn the youngsters into responsible parent figures, and total freedom makes everyone unhappy. In the end Albidaro and Olara restore order. Pinkney's fluid illustrations exude bedtime magic, and he wisely balances the outlandish scenario with realistic renderings of the animals as they engage in merry mayhem. The fable itself fares less well, however. Though shot through with humor, it stumbles by straining too hard to be silly (listing ""hippopotamussesessssss"" and ""rhinossyhorses"" among an otherwise normal lineup of animal names, for instance) and serving up such gushing descriptions as ""happy as a butterfly's heart."" Ages 4-8. (Oct.)