Friday, April 13, 2007

review: Muncha Muncha Muncha

I hear from Kids Lit that there is a sequel to MMM, which I haven't been lucky enough to read yet, but you can see why I want to...

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming. Illustrated by G.
Brian Karas. Atheneum, 2002 (0-689-83152-8) $16.00

Reminiscent of The Tale of Peter Rabbit--if it had been written from McGregor's point of view--this tale of Man vs. Bunny is equally delightful in its own right. Mr. McGreely has dreamed for years of planting a garden, and finally one Spring he hoes and sows and watches his garden grow. But his dreams of crisp, fresh veggies are ruined by three hungry bunnies. As Mr. McGreely gets angrier and angrier at the devastation of his garden, he builds more and bigger structures around it--but the bunnies always find a way through. Until one day he builds such a huge, enormous thing around his garden, the bunnies can't possibly get in. Or can they?

Fleming uses a combination of repetitive and cumulative prose that makes the story simply sing when read aloud, and Karas' lively illustrations give it great expression and charm--especially the last page, which shows Mr. McGreely sitting on the grass and moodily gnawing a carrot along with the three happy gnawing bunnies. Adults who choose to can find lots of lessons here about the futility of escalation, the benefits of sharing, and the drawbacks of trying to overcontrol nature... or they can simply share a terrific story. * (2-8)

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Poetry Friday: Inch by Inch

Spring, beautiful spring...

Inch By Inch: The Garden Song by David Mallett. Illustrated by Ora
Eitan. HarperCollins, 1995 (0-06-024303-1); HarperTrophy, 1997
(0-06443481-8) $5.95 pb

A small but stalwart gardener delightfully personifies the themes of this homage to gardening, taken from Mallet's classic folk song. With a little attention to the rhythm, it's almost as much fun to read as it is to sing (although I prefer the slightly altered version Arlo Guthrie performs); the music is also included. Boldly splashed with color, Eitan's pictures interpret the intimate, uplifting lyrics with imagination and verve, illustrating "Mother Earth will make you strong if you give her love and care," with a picture of the boy tugging a radish six times his size out of the ground; "In my garden I'm as free as that feathered thief up there" shows him and his faithful dog sliding down a rainbow. Gardeners of every age will love this. (3 & up)

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