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Thompson, Richard
Illustrated by Henry Fernandes Victoria (B.C.), Orca Book Publishers, 1992. 32pp, galley, $8.95
ISBN 0-920501-85-0. CIP

Preschool-grade 5 / Ages 4-10

Reviewed by Allison Haupt

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

To make Thistle Broth, Thompson has used a folkloric stock and brewed together just enough humour and repetition to create a delightful concoction just right for storytelling. This is a heartwarming, gentle and reassuring broth of a tale with just a pinch of the absurd for flavouring.

Thistle Broth is a story about Old Thomas and Young Tom, his son. One fall day a brisk wind and a light rain force the two indoors to dry off and warm up. Old Thomas interrupts Young Tom's attempt to light a fire with a request for bread and cheese for lunch: "It is more important to be warmed on the inside than to be toasted on the outsider.

Before Young Tom can prepare the lunch, he is asked to repair the leaking roof: "How can an old man enjoy his meal with cold water dripping onto his head?" The mournful moaning of the wind causes Old Thomas to pre-empt Young Tom's repairs to the roof to prepare a thistle broth to cure the "ill wind." "What is the discomfort of one old man compared to the suffering of the wind?" Each request becomes more absurd as Young Tom bandages clouds, mends the moon, and tars the falling stars back onto the sky.

Young Tom finally realizes that Old Thomas is still soaked, shivering and hungry, and decides that his father is more important than a host of cosmic complaints. He returns to building a fire and preparing the lunch for the obstreperous but lovable old man.

Henry Fernandes' oil paintings perfectly capture the warmth and subtle humour of the tale. Fernandes is the husband of Eugenie Fernandes, the illustrator of many of Thompson's previous books. The brightly coloured full-page paintings are not as detailed as but are somewhat reminiscent of Kim LaFave's illustrations for Spray's Mare's Egg (Camden House, 1981). The simplicity of the style, design and concept of the book makes it a sure choice for blustery or rainy afternoon storytime.

This delightful picture-book is recommended for home collections and school and public libraries.

Allison Haupt is Children's Coordinator for the North Vancouver District Public Library in North Vancouver, British Columbia
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