cover image Louella Mae

Louella Mae

Karen Beaumont, Karen Beaumont Alarcon. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-3532-2

Where is Louella Mae? Everyone on the farm wants to know, so they launch a massive, rhyming search that builds in funny freneticism with every turn of the page. In fact, page-turning is an instrumental part of the book, since that's how each one of Louella Mae's possible hiding places is revealed; turning the penultimate page discloses not only where Louella Mae is, but what she is as well: a pig. First-time author Alarcon gleefully captures the cadences of country talk, which will prompt those reading aloud to put on their best hillbilly accent: ""Run tell the neighbors/ and y'all give a yell/ 'fore she wanders off yonder/ and falls in the...[turning the page]...well."" Litzinger (The Someday House) conjures up dumpling-shaped, totemic-looking figures who are dwarfed by rows of corn and seem only a head or two taller than their ducks and chickens. The stylized scale and the action-filled scenes gleefully evoke the feverish anxiety of the characters. The artist powerfully wields the deep earth tones and subtle gradations of her watercolor palette (a vignette depicting the sun setting behind a range of mountains is particularly striking), producing a sophisticated look that wittily complements the hill-folks setting. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)