A book for sale!
The late Slobodkina’s friend and mentee, Sayer, brings back Caps for Sale’s monkeys and peddler in a new story about the characters’ fractious but ultimately positive relationship. Endnotes explain that Sayer used characters and other illustrative elements from Slobodkina’s body of work to create new pictures, with text inspired by ideas they’d discussed over the years. In this story, the peddler is distressed because the monkeys have occupied a tree outside his house. Exasperated, he goes to his friend Essie’s house for advice, and the monkeys (of course) follow him. Essie is a painter based on Slobodkina herself, and she’s depicted with one of the artist’s most famous fine-art paintings on her easel. She counsels patience with the monkeys. That night, the peddler visits an ill friend instead of working. His concern that he won’t have caps to sell the next day is resolved by the monkeys, whose “mindful” observation from their tree has taught them how to make new caps to sell. Readers hoping for more of the elemental charm and fizzy mischief of Caps for Sale will be disappointed. The text is earnest and overlong, many illustrations are too busy, and furthermore it’s unclear exactly how Sayer manipulated Slobodkina’s original art. Several compositions are decidedly awkward, as is the visual pacing.
A disappointing trip down Memory Lane. (Picture book. 3-6)