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WHEN AUNT LENA DID THE RHUMBA by Eileen Kurtis-Kleinman


by Eileen Kurtis-Kleinman & illustrated by Diane Greenseid

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7868-0082-8
Publisher: Hyperion

 Kurtis-Kleinman's debut sets out to tickle children silly with the hijinks of narrator Sophie's lovable, irrepressible, show-biz-in-its-blood extended family. Aunt Lena loves Broadway musicals, dressing up every Wednesday for the matinee, and then returning home to re-enact it for her niece. One Wednesday, she slips on a piece of cooked cabbage and falls on her ``big rump''; this pratfall results in a sprained ankle and an extended stay in bed. Lena mourns in advance for the next matinee, which she'll have to miss (most readers will wonder, at this point, why her usual taxi ride into the city and a good pair of crutches won't see her through). Sophie decides that if Lena can't go to the show, the show will come to her, and talks her family into rehearsing a vaudeville show in the kitchen; its performance so cheers Aunt Lena that she leaps from bed (what?), wiggles into her purple matinee dress (what?), high heels (what?), and takes Sophie to a matinee-- thereby defeating the entire point of the book. Greenseid's illustrations show frenetic Pillsbury Doughboylike people whooping it up in a book with a lot more heart than sense; readers who question the plotting too closely probably wouldn't like Broadway musicals either, another arena in which high- stepping enthusiasm compensates mightily for flaws in the storyline. (Picture book. 5-9)