cover image Mister Whistler

Mister Whistler

Margaret Mahy, illus. by Gavin Bishop. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-8774-6791-2

This second posthumously published work by the late Mahy, after The Man from the Land of Fandango, is distinctive and full of sly humor. Mister Whistler loves to dance so much that when his Great-Aunt Lydia calls him for help washing her windows, he can barely tear himself away. He heads for the train station, puts his ticket between his teeth for safekeeping, checks for a clean handkerchief, then panics: “No ticket!” Every pocket is empty (viewers can see the ticket clenched between his teeth the whole time), and he strips down to his polka-dotted boxers in a frenzy that’s half ticket-hunt and half dance: “Mister Whistler spun in wild circles, keeping time with the music in his head.” Entertained onlookers put money in his hat—which, it turns out, he needs to fund another ticket purchase. Bishop’s ink-and-watercolor drawings perform as brilliantly as Mister Whistler himself, showing the action clearly and giving the lines and drape of Mister Whistler’s generous tweed coat the grace of a dancing partner. This is the kind of picture book that families fall in love with. Ages 4–up. (Feb.)