From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–Crews uses digitally manipulated photos and line drawings along with brief text to relate the adventures of Jack and his action-figure toy, Guy. They live in a narrow house with many stairs that provides them with opportunities for creative play. The stairs become mountains to climb, forests to explore, and, when Jacks cars and other toys are added to the fun, cities to visit. But one day Guy falls through a hole in the stairs, and Jack worries about what might be happening to him below. Fearful that Guy might have to deal with dragons, wild horses, or–perhaps worse–be all alone, the child uses his crane and other action figures to effect a rescue. Most illustrations are large colorful spreads, while white line drawings against the stark black ground of Guys below world under the stairs provide sharp contrast. This story, along with Mini Greys Traction Man Is Here! (Knopf, 2005), will surely inspire young readers to see everyday objects in a new light.–Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
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PreS-K. Rather than the urban backdrops of The Neighborhood Mother Goose (2004) and many of Crews' other photographic titles, the setting here is domestic--a simple white staircase that features an irresistible hole in one of the floorboards. When protagonist Jack drops his favorite action figure down the hole ("Jack was too big to look inside. Guy was willing to go alone"), he first approaches his parents for help. They are busy, so he launches his own, triumphant rescue operation. The tension resolves a bit abruptly, and some children may wish for a greater focus on the toy's-eye-view adventure, an element that figures more prominently in Mini Gray's Traction Man Is Here! (2005). Nevertheless, the strengths here are Crews' vivid portrayal of independent play and her unobtrusive alterations to the photos, some digital and some freehand, that show how fantasy transforms Jack's world. Also irresistible is the generous size of the photos--a reflection of Crews' sense that the small, everyday episodes in children's lives deserve to be writ large. Jennifer Mattson
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