"LOUELLA MAE, SHE'S RUN AWAY!" by Karen Beaumont "Alarc¢n


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Alarc¢n's first book, given a farm setting, sends up a rallying cry in the search for the missing Louella Mae: ""Round up the horses!/Hitch up the team!/Hop in the buckboard/and look by the . . . stream."" The last word appears on the following page, a device that is repeated throughout and that lends itself well to participation at story hours, since most children will be able to anticipate the rhyming word. The loosely sketched illustrations, washed in watercolors, are filled with a gang of small comic figures whose black-dot eyes bug-out at appropriate moments during the search. Louella Mae, a sow, turns out to be safely at home, snoozing in the bathtub. The text has problems for an intended audience of preschoolers: The meter is sometimes forced to make a rhyme; one line--""Oh mercy, I swan!""--is too obscure for children; the push for folksiness is clumsy and inconsistent-- ""hollowed-out,"" but ""swallered up,""--and unnecessary contractions, e.g., ""'neath"" and"" 'fore."" And no literal-minded child will miss the fact that the big"" 'ol"" black bear of the text is blue in the picture.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Henry Holt