Books by Wendy Smith

THE GREATEST SHOW OFF EARTH by Margaret Mahy
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 1994

This book finds Mahy (A Fortune Branches Out, p. 559, etc.; The Christmas Tree Tangle, see p. 1421) in an antic mode. It's a space farce featuring a couple of orphaned kids who escape a dour craft on which humor is abhorred as fatally dangerous. Eventually, they discover the power of laughter and their missing relations in a cosmic circus that, Sleeping Beauty-like, has been dozing until it can be awakened by some well-timed jokes. Along the way, Mahy makes comic use of the children's remarkable attributes (since Delphinium is a "calculator" and Jason a "library," each is a fund of information, by turns handy or amusingly incongruous); concocts a gallery of extraterrestrials that rivals the weirder inhabitants of Oz; and sports with words with her usual wit and aplomb (the arch-villain, Delphinium's former nanny Molly, is also known as La Mollerina, the Williwaw of the West). There's an occasional thoughtful adult overtone (particularly, some inventive counters to the stereotyping of librarians), but they never intrude on the childlike humor. An imaginative romp. (Fiction. 8- 12)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1994

A dozen whimsically offbeat tales: two new, the others recycled from earlier books that didn't, apparently, appear in the US. As is her wont, Mahy begins with ingredients of proven appeal: characters such as pirates, animals, orphans, or other not-so-ordinary kids; situations like wanting a pet, being able to fly, getting involved in magical transformations, or simply instigating a celebration. Then, she stirs them up and elaborates on them with her own inimitably bracing logic and preposterous wit. Smith's merry pen-and-watercolor sketches intermingle with the text on every page, catching the comical, childlike tone precisely. (But why do the one-handed clocks that head each tale lack minute hands?) Just right as readalouds or for younger independent readers. (Fiction. 4-10)Read full book review >