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Jane Jacobs
Illustrated by Karen Reczuch

Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1989. 56pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-19-540708-3. CIP

Grades 3 to 5/Ages 8 to 10
Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 17 Number 4
1989 July

Tina, whose real name is Ernestina and whose nickname is Peanutina, is so small she can use a peanut shell for a boat, but her favourite pastime is seeing the world from the vantage point of someone's hat. One day, while the family is in Kentucky visiting their cousin Jerry's peanut farm, Tina crawls into a cave only to lose her way when a section of the cave collapses behind her. After climbing upward towards what she hopes will be a surface exit, she finds herself in a field where her father and brother are digging up peanuts.

The publisher's blurb compares this story to Gulliver's Travels, The Borrowers and "Tom Thumb." True, all have miniature protagonists, but there the similarity stops. Jane Jacobs is not in the same class as Swift, Norton or the unknown originator of the little man no bigger than one's thumb. Her style is wooden and more suited to non-fiction than to fantasy. The text could use a lot more dialogue. I was never for a moment able to suspend my disbelief in Tina's size, and thus Jacobs' attempt at successful fantasy fails.

Karen Reczuch's illustrations are excellent, even though this is her first book. Her carefully detailed, realistic line drawings are far better story-tellers than the author. The characters come to life easily in Reczuch's hands. Even Tina seems believable.

It is just possible that the illustrations and the idea of a miniature heroine may attract quite a few readers, and new stories for the middle grades are always in demand. Even so, it's not a first choice.

Maryleah Otto, St.Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, Ont.
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