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TWENTY-TWO, TWENTY-THREE by Ellen Raskin

TWENTY-TWO, TWENTY-THREE

By Ellen Raskin

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1976
ISBN: 068930529X
Publisher: Atheneum

Unquestionably, Ellen Raskin is a genuine kook. However, that doesn't prevent her originality from lapsing into over-ingenuity, which is what happens here. At the start, the little road signs pointing left to "front cover" and "jacket" and right to (pages) "twenty-two, twenty-three" are appreciably witty touches, but wit turns to manner when the whole book becomes nothing but an overburdened journey to "twenty-two, twenty-three," with the only topic of discussion being a mouse's proper costume for the trip--debated at artificial and tiresome length by her fellow travelers: the bear in his underwear, the frogs in clogs, the cock in the smock, the dove with gloves on his feet, and too many such others. The pictures of course are more clever, but, in the end, too clever. Spiffy and elegant, the animals regroup themselves from page to page in jumbled, confusing arrangements that make no sense at all until, on the climactic double-spread pages twenty-two and twenty-three, they have formed a Christmas tree shape and a red suited Santa (the bear) and spelled out the message "Merry New Year." In our view, it's a head trip that will attract few passengers.