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ONCE UPON A BANANA by Jennifer Armstrong Kirkus Star


By Jennifer Armstrong (Author) , David Small (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-689-84251-1
Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

In a tour de force of visual sequencing captioned only by a set of rhyming street and shop signs, Small sets up a hilarious chain of events along a busy city street. The action starts on the front endpapers as a street performer’s monkey snatches a banana from a fruit stand and tosses the peel onto the sidewalk. This sets off an escalating ruckus that moves around the block (and is actually mapped out on the rear endpapers), involving pedestrians, a painter atop a ladder, cars and trucks, dogs (lots of dogs), much flying through the air and a hurtling carriage with a delighted baby on board (for part of the way, anyway). Composed in fluent pen lines and watercolor brushwork, the scenes are chock full of comically dismayed characters, and surprisingly easy to follow despite the frenetic activity. In addition, for all its brevity, the text sets up a strong background rhythm—“4-Way Stop / Barber Shop / One-Way Street / NO BARE FEET”—that complements the breathless visual pacing. Ultimately, a disastrous encounter between a careening garbage truck and an entire shipment of bananas brings the tale back to where it began, whereupon all of the participants, human and otherwise, gather in a closing spread for an amicable bananafest. More fun than a barrel of . . . well. (Picture book. 5-8)