From Publishers Weekly
Just as hidden caves lie in the forest and treasures twinkle on the ocean floor, secret passageways surely await discovery in New York City's grand apartment buildings. Cultural commentator Lebowitz and architect/Princeton professor Graves-in an eyebrow-raising, distinguished collaboration-lend a sophisticated uptown mood to this curiouser and curiouser story of two precocious seven-year-olds. When bookwormish narrator Mr. Chas and his extroverted neighbor, Lisa Sue, step through a door in Lisa Sue's pantry, they enter a "particularly empty" hallway that is "as long as a whole highway." Moments later, they startle two giant pandas, who introduce themselves as Pandemonium and Don't Panda to Public Taste. These black-and-white creatures, it seems, are weary of their seclusion (they can only go out in public disguised as dogs), and seek greener pastures in Paris. Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue devise a classic solution: they stage a panda race to raise funds for the pandas' plane fare. Scattered throughout are Graves's unobtrusively gentle, smudgy line drawings of the children, the pandas and, of course, architectural motifs. This dryly funny fantasy infuses historic urban buildings with the glamour and intrigue of fairy-tale castles. Ages 7-12.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4?Sophisticated adults' visions of precocious children's adventures tend to be more appealing to sophisticated adults than to real youngsters. That's just the case in Lebowitz's first children's book, in which Mr. Chas, a seven-year-old Manhattanite, narrates what happens when he and his friend Lisa Sue discover two pandas behind a hidden door in her pantry. The pandas, "Pandemonium" and "Don't Panda to Public Taste," long to live urban lives and eat city food, but fear being put in the zoo. Disguising themselves as dogs won't help, since animals are not allowed in museums or restaurants. Their dream, therefore, is to move to Paris, where "dogs can go anywhere," and Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue set out to raise money for their trip. Unfortunately, they're unable to come up with the necessary funds. But luckily, Lisa Sue's father happens to be going to France and agrees to take the pandas. Lebowitz's style is artfully rambling as Mr. Chas airs his impressive vocabulary and his interpretations of why things are as they are. The fantasy is no more convincing than the children. With her deliberately arch style, the author has created an odd look at unsupervised bright youngsters. While Graves's pen-and-charcoal illustrations of the locale, the children, and the pandas in disguise are charming, the overall effect of the book is cloying.?Anne Connor, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.