MAMA AND LITTLE JOE by Angela McAllister


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 9
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In McAllister’s latest offering, Mama Ruby and Little Joe, who are “tenth-hand” stuffed kangaroos, arrive at a house filled with new toys who shun them. Mama Ruby tries to make herself useful by “fetch[ing] dominoes for Camel,” “carr[ying] a mirror for Monkey” and “carr[ying] Mouse all over the house,” yet the animals continue to spurn the newcomers. Until, that is, the day that Joe gets accidentally thrown away, and, one by one, the other animals decide to help Ruby rescue him after he spends a dismal night in the garbage pail. This tale is quite dark. The new toys are remarkably cruel to Ruby and Joe, but what is even more disturbing is Ruby’s strategy to change this attitude by making herself into their servant. Milne’s soft, detailed watercolors present the characters’ emotions precisely as McAllister’s story depicts them, complete with heartbreaking looks of sadness for Mama and Little Joe and derisive looks of contempt on the faces of the other toys. The final disappointment is that, after all this strife, the toys’ change of heart feels more contrived than earned or authentic, and the reader is left with a lingering sadness at the close of this story. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 27th, 2007
ISBN: 1-4169-1631-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2007


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