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Manuelo, the Playing Mantis Paperback – January 19, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4-Though Freeman died in 1978, his love for storytelling and, in particular, his love for music live on through this previously unpublished tale of determination personified in the character of a praying mantis. The lonely insect longs to join other creatures in making music, but lacks the chirp of the crickets or the croak of the frogs. He also fails at building his own instruments, as a reed made into a flute makes no noise, the flower of a trumpet vine does not blow, and his "snippy" claws break the strings of a twig-and-cobweb harp. Finally, an intelligent and observant spider agrees to help him, if he promises not to eat her for dinner. An artistic collaboration is born as Debby Webster spins web and other objects into an instrument that will bring music into Manuelo's life. The rich pastel illustrations present the world of the resolute Manuelo as the "playing mantis" introduces various instruments to readers. With his stick-thin limbs, the insect makes a graceful figure as he plays his homemade cello. The tiny white spider perfectly reflects the delicate nature of the web she spins. With characters that are empathetic and intrepid, this story makes a good model for encouraging youngsters to persevere when they encounter difficulties. A fine choice for all libraries, this book will be of special interest to young musicians.-Mary Elam, Forman Elementary School, Plano, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
K-Gr. 2. Manuelo, a praying mantis, loves to listen to the outdoor concerts near the meadow where he lives. Though he doesn't have a way of making music with his body, like crickets or katydids, he tries to make a flute from a cattail and a horn from a trumpet flower--unsuccessfully. A cheerful spider offers to help and sends Manuelo to find half a walnut shell and a curlicued stick. She spins strings for him, and Manuelo makes a cello with a bluebird feather for a bow. Freeman died in 1978, but most of the illustrations here are his; several others were finished from his sketches by Jody Wheeler. The art features delicate lines, soft, bright colors, and a certain whimsy: it's hard not to be charmed by the sight of the mantis playing for an audience of frogs and insects. Friends of Corduroy will want to meet Manuelo, too. GraceAnne DeCandido
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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