cover image Balancing Act

Balancing Act

Ellen Stoll Walsh, S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0757-2

With characteristic simplicity and charm, Stoll (Mouse Shapes) introduces two mice who fashion a teeter-totter by balancing a tree branch on a rock. Poised on each end—and playfully standing on one foot—the friends are in perfect equilibrium (“Ta-da!”), until a salamander climbs on. Another salamander on the opposite end solves the problem: “Perfect. Balance again.” But the scenario repeats as a pair of frogs leap onto the branch; a large speckled bird then flies in and dramatically upsets everything once again. “Whoops! That’s not going to work!” reads the text as the bird comically squashes several of the players. Thinking fast, the smaller creatures reassemble on the other side of the branch, offsetting the weight of the bird. When “too many balancers” snap the seesaw in two, the others wander off, but the mice rebuild and begin teeter-tottering all over again. Walsh’s familiar cut-paper critters pop from the white background. Even the minimalist text of this cumulative tale often shifts in and out of balance with the action while sending an upbeat message about ingenuity and cooperation. Ages 2–6. (Sept.)