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by Cynthia Rylant & illustrated by Tim Bowers

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-201079-3
Publisher: Harcourt

Rylant seems poised to reel off another long series of warm, fuzzy episodes for new and pre-readers. Here the guinea pig introduced in Little Whistle (not reviewed) invites his toy friends (who come to life when the elegant toyshop they share closes for the night) to dinner, then gathers up a toy oven, toy place settings, a tiny kettle, and some hoarded goodies. The animate toys have simple character traits to distinguish them, and with Little Whistle doing all the cooking and a wooden soldier reading stories to all the shop’s children each night, there’s some gentle massaging of gender roles as well. Bowers, illustrator of the inaugural title, depicts figures with photorealistic precision, and keeps such a close point of view that Little Whistle—almost lost in an oversized pea coat—and his friends, whose fuzzy or polished surfaces seem almost touchable, generally fill each frame. Little Whistle disappears as the feast is about to begin, to make a grand re-entrance with a box of vanilla cookies fetched by toy helicopter from the local all-night grocery. Soothing, intimately small-scale, and just the ticket for a cozy bedtime read. (Picture book. 4-7)