cover image Orange Cheeks

Orange Cheeks

Jay O'Callahan. Peachtree Publishers, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-073-2

With mixed results, renowned storyteller O'Callahan tackles the difficult task of refashioning an oral tale as a written one. Four-year-old Willie, who seems to be a magnet for chaos, is sent to visit his grandmother, after being warned by his own mother that ``if there's any trouble you won't go overnight for a year.'' At Grandma's Willie cuts out two circles from orange construction paper and pastes them to his cheeks--presumably in appreciation of his grandmother's ``wrinkled, crinkled cheeks. (He loves those cheeks but never said anything about them.)'' It doesn't take long for trouble to find Willie, but an extra dose of understanding from Grandma delivers the book's ultimate message about a special intergenerational bond. Unfortunately the text, deprived of oral cadences and rhythms, seems a bit scattered; conversely, attempts to simulate Willie's vocal patterns (``no trou bl - l - l - llllle ma- ma-a-a-a '') become tiresome rather quickly. Raine's textured, old-fashioned oil paintings winningly depict the wide range of four-year-old emotion--glee, frustration, pride, fear--while also capturing an abundance of grandmotherly affection. Ages 4-8. (May)