A mischievous young girl visits a mouse city and invites all its residents to a picnic in this boldly illustrated tale by Sawyer-Aitch (Nalah and the Pink Tiger, 2013).
Nalah is in a foul mood on the day of a family picnic. All her imaginary friends, who were introduced in her previous picture book, have gone on adventures without her. Bored and left to her own devices, she makes just enough mischief to get sent to her room. Luckily, Mad Tooth Mouse, who eats socks from Nalah’s sock drawer, shows up to listen to her complaints. With a little bit of magic, Mad Tooth shrinks Nalah down so that she can visit Mad Mouse City, and there, she discovers that she’s a hero. After an impromptu celebration and dance party, she invites the mice back to her family’s picnic. Now normal-sized, Nalah convinces all her siblings and cousins—a wonderfully multihued group—to make taffy for their mice guests. Soon, more mischief ensues when the children and mice must eat their way out of a taffy explosion. Although the story isn’t terribly linear—there’s no real explanation, for example, of why making taffy is suddenly the thing to do—it’s so much fun that it doesn’t really matter. Children will giggle at Nalah’s antics, and they’ll be engrossed by the brightly colored, chaotic images. Sawyer-Aitch uses a technique she calls “illuminated illustration,” based on her own shadow-puppet work, which results in abstract, textured background images with details that will have young readers poring over the pages again and again. The text is placed among the illustrations, and although the format may make the words difficult for newly independent readers to pick out, the work is worth it, if only to read about the “jewel-black eyes” of the mice and the promise of a picnic with “hot dogs and Pho.”
A wonderfully illustrated, not-too-serious story that may make children eager to visit a mouse town and try taffy hairstyles.