cover image I'll Take You to Mrs Cole

I'll Take You to Mrs Cole

Nigel Gray. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-916291-39-6

For this story's protagonist, a visit to the title character is the ubiquitous punishment threatened by his harried mother. Naturally, Mrs. Cole's has swelled to Dickensian proportions in the boy's imagination--he pictures slimy dungeons and children being starved, whipped and possibly even stewed. One day the boy decides to run away; ending up at Mrs. Cole's, he discovers--of course--that she's not at all as he feared. A thoroughly irresistible character (one scene finds her rocking out in the kitchen, singing into a whisk/microphone and sporting an apron emblazoned with Mick Jagger), Mrs. Cole presides over a cheerfully raucous, wildly untidy household overflowing with children, music, games and pets of every persuasion--in short, all of the ingredients missing from a lonely latchkey child's life. While somewhat over the top, Gray's story is sympathetic, humorous and a rollicking read-aloud. Though Foreman's bizarre, oversized figures may strike some as excessively loopy, his palette accentuates the story's transition--like Dorothy arriving in Oz, the boy's home life (cool shades of blue, gray and lavender) gives way to the warm, bright hues of the fun-loving Mrs. Cole's. Ages 5-11. (Mar.)