cover image Hana's Year

Hana's Year

Carol Talley. MarshMedia, $17.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-55942-034-1

Talley and Maeno, who collaborated on Clarissa and Papa Piccolo, settle for bland blocks of text and amateurish illustrations in this potentially inviting book about a Japanese monkey. Hana, a one-year-old macaque, can't resist imitating another adolescent macaque, Tampopo, although Tampopo's antics invariably result in trouble. However, when Tampopo ruins the vegetable garden and precious indigo cloth of a boy who is Hana's friend, Hana has second thoughts about following Tampopo's bad examples. Intended to combat peer pressure--and to inform readers of the boy's livelihood, weaving and dyeing hemp fibers--this book seems more an instructive tool than a tale to be read for pleasure. Talley's narrative, which introduces the monkeys and their shenanigans, might be edifying if supported by strong illustrations; yet the likenesses of the monkeys themselves are distractingly awkward. Their maudlin facial expressions, foreshortened bodies and prickly-looking fur clash with Maeno's gracefully rendered foliage and delicate, diluted watercolors. A book focused on monkeys demands an artist who draws them with authority. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)