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Shirley Hughes

Toronto, Douglas & Mclntyre, 1989. 24pp, cloth, $13.95
ISBN 0-88894-814-X. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8
Reviewed by Pearl Herscovitch.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

As the family prepares for the birth of a new baby, Mae reacts with a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty. She curls up in the cradle and sorts through her toy chest making sure she doesn't give away anything too special, and whines when her mother won't carry her up the stairs to her third floor "flat."

When her teacher assigns roles for the Christmas play, Mae is indignant at being offered the role of a cow and jubilant when offered the role of Angel Gabriel, which she endearingly pro­nounces as Angel Gave-you. On the morning of the play the children find Grandma fixing breakfast while Dad and Mum are at the hospital. In her excitement at seeing Dad arrive during the play, Mae waves, calls out and falls, but bravely returns to her place on stage to the sound of applause. A satisfying ending finds Mae and her brother Frankie admiring their "runny little, crumpled" baby sister and Mum home just in time for Christmas.

Pen-and-ink illustrations and water-colours provide a warm, realistic depic­tion of a working-class family. Pudgy, defiant Mae with her wire-rimmed glasses has the untidy appearance that makes Hughes characters so appealing. Her illustrations and text capture the activity and exhaustion associated with the arrival of a new baby and the festivity of a school nativity play. There will undoubtedly be a demand for the first book in this new series by Shirley Hughes.

Pearl Herscovitch, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta.
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