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Ian Wallace
Toronto, Groundwood/Douglas & Mclntyre, 1991. 32pp, laminated board, $14.95
ISBN 0-88899-143-6. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Theo Hersh

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

A giant landlady, terrifying cats, rats, flies, and ominous rental signs make it impossible for April Moth and her canine companion Mr. Kneebone to find a place to live. After catching sixty rats in six days, April Moth packs her belongings into a bundle buggy and searches for fine new "digs." One place after another fails to offer basic comfort, so April Moth and Mr. Kneebone wander out of town and find the perfect spot, a little cave in a grassy-green park.

Ian Wallace has created a magical book about an all-too-real situation for many people. The urban setting offers the marvels of big city life and also the misery. In the distance, huge, grey office towers dwarf the small, colourful shops of April Moth's run-down neighbourhood. While the city is unfriendly, it is not totally hostile or ungiving. Small pleasures - a sweet orange, a prophetic street musician - soften the blows as April Moth unsuc­cessfully looks for a new home.

The water-colour and ink illustra­tions are among Wallace's best work. Light and shadow play mysteriously with each other and the reader's imagination. The illustrations spill over the page in a way that suggests there is more than what one sees. It is a com­plex, unsettling book, full of subtle jokes and riddles, a little sad, and yet, in the character of April Moth, upbeat and optimistic. An unusual book, Mr. Kneebone's New Digs is wonderful.

Theo Hersh, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ont.
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