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Hazel Hutchins
Illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Toronto, Annick Press, 1992. 24pp, cloth, $14.95
ISBN 1-55037-219-X. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Marion Scott

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Hutchins and Ohi have collaborated on a picture-book with a highly appealing story­line: Norman, older sister Leanna, and Leanna's friend Neil play make-believe, but Norman, the youngest, always gels a secondary role - the cat. When he tires of this and misbehaves, Norman is banished. However, when left to his own devices, he begins a now game that is so appealing that Leanna and Neil not only join in but let Norman choose his own part.

This is Hutchins' best writing yet. She has deftly observed both big-sister - little-brother dynamics and the world of imagina­tive play. Both are portrayed with a sure and humorous touch, and the telling is nicely shaped and paced.

Unfortunately, the illustrations are undis­tinguished. Ohi uses a simple, childlike style, but the result is mostly bland. Colour choices are dull, and the children lack distinctiveness and expression. With the exception of one or two moments, background detail tends to overwhelm and the artwork fails to convoy the underlying humour.

The end result is certainly acceptable and will undoubtedly strike a chord with three-to seven-year-olds. The disappointment lies in the fact that there was potential for some­thing better. This title is worth considering and would be a popular addition to both core and browsing collections.

Both Hutchins and Ohi are familiar names, each with several children's books to her credit. They have also worked together previously. Past collaborations include Nicholas at the library and Norman's Snow­ball.

Marion Scott, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ont.

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