cover image What John Marco Saw

What John Marco Saw

Annie Barrows, illus. by Nancy Lemon. Chronicle, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-1-4521-6336-9

John Marco is a vivid reporter on the world around him. He’s just seen a large grasshopper with eyes “all black and bulgy,” he tells his four older siblings, “and I could hear it chew, like this, ch-ch-ch.” But because he’s little, “nobody listened,” writes Barrows (the Ivy and Bean series), making her picture book debut—not even when he sees an orange cat who “went prrr-rrup.” When a tree in his front yard begins “falling down very slowly, but it was definitely falling down,” John Marco decides that this time he is not going to be ignored. Lemon (Emma and Muse) draws the protagonist with his gap-toothed mouth wide open and arms outstretched, his T-shirt riding up to reveal his navel. The tree, meanwhile, is never shown in full-length “Timber!” mode; instead, Lemon focuses on a dense cluster of leafy branches that take over more and more of each page, and a discombobulated owl who survives the descent. It’s a magical portrayal of one of those strange and giddy moments that makes an indelible impression on one’s imagination. Best of all, it succeeds in proving that John Marco (and what he notices) is worth everyone’s attention. Ages 3–5. [em](Oct.) [/em]