Raschka injects fresh whimsy into a bit of linguistic tomfoolery from one of the poet’s letters to his younger sister.
The poem has been illustrated before—notably by Ezra Jack Keats (1965)—but Raschka’s free-form brushwork and love of bright color contrasts seem particularly suited to the autobiographical (more or less) verses’ quick tumble of chopped lines and rhymes. Having “followéd his Nose / To the North, / To the North,” a “naughty boy” writes in cool weather and warm (“Och the charm”), makes “Of fish a pretty Kettle / A Kettle!” and observes that in Scotland “the ground / Was as hard, / That a yard / Was as long, / That a song / Was as merry” as in England. The words propel themselves along: “So he stood in his shoes / And he wonder’d, / He wonder’d, / He stood in his shoes // And he wonder’d.” The illustrations are equally playful. The endpapers present views of the Scottish coast and New York separated only by a narrow blue band labeled “Much Water,” for instance. Raschka depicts a light-brown lad with windblown hair and a red cap, first running, then walking ever more contemplatively along broad tracks that turn out to be arrows pointing him onward.
Visually boisterous, great fun to read aloud, and likely to incite some “wond’ring” along with the laughter. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-9)