From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4 - Cole offers a subtle and sweet affirmation of the power of familial love. When Momma is sick and Poppa is away, Maggie, Katie, and Nora are sent to stay with Granny. Deft watercolors reveal the homespun details within the brownstone on a bustling urban street as the disheveled senior does her best to care for her charges. The girls try to amuse themselves, but Granny denies each of their requests with a rationale couched in worry. The sisters finally ask her to tell them of the "long time ago, when you danced with the Prince in fair Monaco." Alas, the distracted woman's mind is filled with concerns, and dinner and bed are all that she can manage. A spread shows the evening cityscape washed in blues and grays, and observant readers may notice two signs that say "Fair" and "Club Monaco." After settling in for the night, the sisters notice a fourth pair of feet in their bed ("Witch's feet!"). A clever spread connects their bedroom to their grandmother's, as the girls dive under the covers and emerge in "granny-witch's" bed and enter her dreams. As the bed floats out of the window and through the sky, they encounter and override each one of the old woman's worries, from burglars to bad boys to bills. When she awakens, a smiling Granny recalls her strange dreams and then plans a special breakfast and a day filled with dancing. With its strong, cleverly presented message about overcoming fears, this book will have wide appeal. - Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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K-Gr. 3. Cole, who so often pushes boundaries, especially in his novels, such as The Goats
(1988) and The Facts Speak for Themselves
(1997), does the same for a younger audience in this picture book that plays with the nature of reality and the effect of perception and dreams on our surroundings. "When Momma was sick and Poppa away, then Maggie and Katie and little Nora went to stay with Granny in the old house on Queen Street." Granny's neighborhood is one of urban blight, and when Nora and her two teenage sisters ask if they can take a walk, Granny's answer is that the area is too dangerous. Rather than delight the children with a story about the time she danced with the prince in Monaco, she goes to bed with a head full of worries and fears about the neighborhood. A transitional spread shows the girls trying to see if there are really witch's feet under their clammy bedcovers; they then find themselves transported into Granny's bed, which floats out the window, past the bad boys and the burglars. Maggie insists they create their own dreams to make the witchy ones go away. They dream of a fair wind and doughnuts, and sure enough, by morning, things are brighter. The neighborhood, once sinister, is now bustling. As in a dream, the underlying meanings here must be teased out, and perhaps the best part of this reading experience will be adults and children discussing what the story means. Pushing their ideas along will be Cole's always interesting artwork. Here, the crowded city becomes almost a character--heavy, dirty, and dangerous at first, but then a positive, pulsing life force as it is transformed through desire. Some readers will just shrug their shoulders, but perhaps they're not dreamers. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved