cover image Mordant's Wish

Mordant's Wish

Valerie Coursen. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-4374-7

Coursen's first picture book is a beguiling union of text and art, creating a breezy, off-kilter fantasy world. Mordant the mole sees the shape of a turtle etched in a cloud and wistfully hopes to make friends with it. This wish begins an eye-opening sequence of events involving a number of seemingly disconnected characters whose actions spontaneously align themselves and eventually help Mordant's wish come true. Cravings induced by visual stimuli (a biker wants a snow-cone after riding through a gust of snowflake-like dandelion seeds; a bird flies off to visit his aunt after ""seeing"" her hat in a snow-cone puddle) keep the characters moving, while other visual touches add whimsy (a happy face shaved onto the back of a man's head; a beetle making her home in a bowl of brightly patterned buttons). Coursen's delicate palette of pale lavender, rose, aqua and green as well as an abundance of decorative detail have an old-world charm that will appeal to admirers of turn-of-the-century picture books, while the draftsmanship and pacing indicate an overall sensibility that is fresh and contemporary. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)