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Hugh MacDonald
Illustrated by Johnny Wales
Toronto, Annick Press, 1992. 24pp, cloth, $14.95
ISBN 1-55037-217-3. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Grades 1 to 4/Ages 6 to 9

Reviewed by Norma Charles

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Mr. Chung Lee is an old retired restaurant cook who buys one lobster a month with his old age pension cheque, takes the lobster to the seashore, and releases it into the sea.

Five-year-old Bizzer, so called because of the way he pronounces "zipper," and his ten-year-old brother secretly follow Mr. Lee to the seashore, where they watch him have a small picnic, after which he gently strokes his lobster and talks to it, then releases it into the sea. The boys are quite distraught at his loss, but soon feel contented after they hoar Mr. Lee's explanation.

The problem with this book, besides the fact that the author tends to talk down to children, making fun of their mispronuncia­tions, and the fact that the illustrations do not always match the text - "But it says that lobster's supposed to be green," said my young audience - is mainly the layout. Except for the first and last pages, all other pages of script are jam packed with words, up to 200 words per page, much too many for a young picture-book fan or audience to cope with.

However, on the positive side, the relationship between the two brothers is a caring one, and the setting of Charlottetown has a pleasant, small-town feel to it.

Norma Charles, Van Home Elementary School, Vancouver, B.C.

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