Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MENDEL'S LADDER by Mark Karlins

MENDEL'S LADDER

By Mark Karlins (Author) , Elaine Greenstein (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-89726-8
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 Though it often reads with the warm familiarity of a tale by a yarn-spinning grandparent, this overlong picture book by the author of Salmon Moon (not reviewed) fails to connect. During the long, dry summer in Flatbush (yeah, Brooklyn), Mendel decides to take action. He builds a ladder to the clouds in search of the Rainmaker. The Rainmaker is named Maxwell Butterbarrel, who sits in an overstuffed chair, drinks tea, reads the paper, and feels unappreciated. With the encouragement of a little sesame seed candy from Mendel's father (who, with Mendel's mother, climbed up to keep an eye on their only child), Max passes out some sparkler wheels, they all make lightning, and it rains. The art is the real star here; Greenstein's pastel-colored monoprints vibrate with childlike immediacy and primitive vitality. Despite the folklore echoes, the attenuated story ultimately overwhelms the pictures and few will be able to hang in for that inevitable happy ending. (Picture book. 4-7)