cover image TreeMan


Carmen Agra Deedy. Peachtree Publishers, $16.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-077-0

Out in the real world, rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate. In the world of children's books, however, the endangered ecosystems seem to be running rampant. In this rather syrupy picture book, professional storyteller Deedy grafts a flimsy Christmas story onto a not terribly well-thought-out (but suitably trendy) earth-friendly message of the sort that is becoming all too familiar. The coyly anthropomorphic stars (frequently--and most unfortunately--referred to in the text as the `` tree amigos'') are Ana Conda, a lipstick-wearing boa decked out--aaccent over a?/dr la Carmen Miranda--in a fruit bowl hat; Slow Jim, a sloth who favors Hawaiian-print shirts; and a ``toucan named Bill, just Bill,'' whose self-deprecating nomenclature is repeated throughout the tale. When a plane flying low over the jungle lets loose a bag of mail, the trio come across a Christmas card featuring Santa, a load of presents and a Christmas tree. Led by this scene to deduce incorrectly that the red-suited fellow delivers trees in exchange for presents, the creatures dub him ``Treeman,'' and send him an assortment of tropical gifts. The story's grating faux-naivete is echoed in Ponte's mixed-media pictures--a jumble of colored pencil, watercolor and cut paper collage. A surfeit of cutesiness. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)