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Wishinsky, Freida
Illustrate d by Jackie Snider
Toronto, Harpe rCoIlins, 1993. 63pp, paper,
$5.95, ISBN 0-00-223994-3. CIP

Subject Heading:
Mothers and sons-Fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8

Reviewed by Catherine McInerney

Volume 22 Number 2
1994 March / April

This is the first book by the author and illustrator. The "Ready Set Read" series is designed as a first reader with easy vocabulary and short text. However, often it is a better idea to look for a great story and pictures to entice a begin ning reader to try to read than to start out by scaling down the literary challenge. In this book, there is nothing extraordinary to interest the child, although no doubt it will be picked up by those who are desperately short of lower level reading material.

The story features a child, Stanley, whose mother seems to have unreasonable expectations of him. The illustrations are cartoonlike, and have a 1950s look--the colours are muted and are somewhere between pastels and bolds.

As the story progresses, Stanley's mother critizes his marks, his personal hygiene, and violin playing. So what's new? Because Stanley's mother is illustrated in a similar warm, smiling pose on every page, and because her complaints are so typical and minor, we have a hard time believing that Stanley has it really rough. So when he runs away (another typical action) we don't quite see why, as there has been no discussion in the story of how Stanley's mother's criticism makes him feel, nor has there been any evidence in the illustrations that Stanley is upset.

The author's use of David Levine as the perfect child is stereotypical. Both the Levines are Jewish; the mother is short and fat and dresses in an elaborately silly fashion, while the boy has curly hair and glasses, and dresses in a suit.

Naturally, both mothers have been using each other's sons as perfect example, so when the boys run away and meet in the park , they are able to compare notes and realize that their parents are the sa me. When they swap places, they discover that their parents really do miss them, and they return home to live happily ever after. Of course, there is no discussion of why the parents have been comparing sons, nor of their sons' feelings, except in very abstract terms.

This book deals with the issues in a very superficial way, and there is similar lack of depth in the text and illustrations.

Not Recommended.

Catherine McInerney is a children's librarian with the St. Catherine's Public Library

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