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GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS by Jeff Mack Kirkus Star


by Jeff Mack & illustrated by Jeff Mack

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4521-0110-1
Publisher: Chronicle

Working from a text composed solely of the titular phrases (plus one final qualifier) in an ongoing call and response, Mack depicts a day among friends whose dispositions couldn’t be more extreme.

Rabbit is an optimist; framed by a soft, white cloud, he exhibits an overflowing picnic basket joyfully to his buddy. An ominous, grey formation shades Mouse’s skeptical reaction. When the storm begins, the fun-lover produces an umbrella; the frowner is blown into a tree. Happily, it’s an apple tree. Unhappily, the fruit descends forcefully on the fallen rodent. So it proceeds in a fashion reminiscent of Remy Charlip’s Fortunately (1964). The difference here is that viewers see the events through two distinct lenses, and the pair are not only experiencing the same situations, they are mindful of one another’s reactions. The artist manipulates body language and facial features to register a range of emotions through caricatures with personality to spare. Endpapers divided into 18 squares contain images than can inspire a variety of storytelling behaviors from prediction to sequencing. When a bear chases the duo up a flagpole, and lightning fries them to charred silhouettes (à la cartoons of yesteryear—sensitive readers beware), Rabbit’s worldview is clearly rocked, but now it is Mouse’s turn to find the silver lining.

An instructive and entertaining primer on the art of friendship and the complexity of joy. (Picture book. 3-7)