Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book one hundred and seventy-three

When I was growing up in a Lebanese village, my mother used to put a dish of milk out on the kitchen step every evening. Often, as the sun was setting, we would watch a family of hedgehogs come to the step to have a little pre-dinner snack. I loved to see the little animals waddle up to the house, looking this way and that and sniffing the breeze with their whiffly noses. I have had a great fondness for these charming little animals ever since.

Today I have a very special picture book for you that is told in the form of a pantomime and that features three little hedgehogs as the main characters.

Javier Saez Castan
Picture Book
Ages 3 and up
Groundwood, 2003, 0-88899-595-4
   It is a fall day, and three little hedgehogs are feeling hungry. So, in a neat little line, they set off in search of a meal, What they find is an apple orchard, and soon they are back in their little home, with bellies full of delicious apple. There is a problem however, because the farm woman is very annoyed to find that all her apples are gone. So angry is she that she gets a posse together to look for the thieves. Thankfully, the people in the posse are not a very good at searching for criminals and they soon quit the field as snow starts to fall.
   When spring arrives, the posse returns, determined to do their duty. They discover the three little hedgehogs, and are just about to do away with them when a most unlikely ally comes to their rescue.
   Arranged in the form of a pantomime in three acts, this unique and amusing book is beautifully crafted. Within the framework of the story, the author has imbedded sayings and remarks into the artwork. These examples of word play are written in Latin, Spanish, and French. There are even some Chinese characters hidden in the illustrations.
   Illustrated in the style of old wall murals, and filled with pictorial as well as verbal jokes, this book will appeal to both young and older readers. It is a treasure for collectors of children’s literature.
   The story includes a list of characters and a glossary.

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