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Baker, Kent
Illustrated by H. Werner Zimmermann Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1992. 32pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-19-540899-3. CIP.

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Lou-Ann Layton

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January

"Poor old Finster awakened one morning with a bird nest in his hair." This is the intriguing first sentence of an unusual but appealing story. Children will quickly be caught up in Finster's predicament and follow his search for a solution. An excellent book for developing the imagination children will be eager to make their own predictions about what Finster might do next.

The situation central to the story is delightfully quirky and the language is filled with odd but interesting expressions, such as, "Has someone broomed by brain?" "Jumpin' jivin' jelly-fish," "He was sad from China to Chile," and "he was about to do his yippie yawns and stretches." Though the richness of this language may confuse the very young, it will attract and arouse the curiosity of older children, offering possibilities for extension language activities. They will no doubt wish to play with words, creating unique combinations, just as Finster and his wife do.

What complements this story and makes it truly noteworthy are the illustrations. H. Werner Zimmermann, already well known for his work on such books as Farmer Joe's Hot Day (North Winds Press, 1987) and Henny Penny, has created fanciful drawings, full of colour, movement and a great deal of humour. Many interesting details will make subsequent readings of the story just as interesting as the first. That, combined with the open ending, makes this a story that will be enjoyed over and over.

Finster Frets is a picture-book in which the two main components, pictures and words, are equally important. Each complements and strengthens the other, together creating an imaginative story, quirky and irresistible in language, situation and illustration.

Lou-Ann Layton is a Primary French Immersion teacher with the Wellington County Board of Education in Guelph, Ontario
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