A bucket, a small shovel, and an unfettered imagination are all it takes to transform a visit to a sandbox in a crowded public park into a brilliant adventure.
All young Adele needs to do is give her bucket a tap. The sand inside crawls out on its own to dance, buildings and parent-bearing benches in the background float out of the frame, and nearby toys and trees acquire smiling faces. Then down a Sand Dragon’s gaping maw tumble Adele and her newly animate companions to meet a tantrum-prone king, fly beneath a cloud of fluffy chicks, perch in a hot dog tree, and land on “a DESSERT island.” “Yummy! Eat up now,” says Adele gaily. “Who KNOWS what will happen next.” Indeed. Ponti slips in Sendak-ian caricatures and other sight gags as he propels his white child and her motley crew of tiny fellow travelers on. (All, except for an anxious toy aptly named Stuffy, are clearly having a grand time.) They proceed through a series of suddenly transformed settings to a final slide down a giant’s tongue that delivers Adele and all back to the sandbox. Readers, particularly the newly independent ones at whom this is aimed, will delightedly join the outing.
An unconscionably tardy return for the young imagineer of the incomparable Adele’s Album (1988)—welcome back! (Graphic early reader. 5-7)