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Three jaunty patterned tales--structured and type-set like picture-book texts--about Mr. Pepper, who has a way of doing things wrong, and his sprightly friend Mrs. Sunshine, who helps him put them to rights. The other common element is the how-to books that Mr. Pepper inappropriately flouts or follows. In the first story, disregarding both Mrs. Sunshine's advice and printed instructions, Mr. Pepper patches his roof with cardboard, repairs his broken windows with plastic wrap, and replaces his chimney-bricks with paste; after the first big storm, Mrs. Sunshine shows him how to portion-out his cookie-jar money to carpenter, handyman, and bricklayer--but, for a surprise, he paints his house the colors of a rainbow himself. Slightly less a matter of hackneyed foibles, closer to true nonsense, are Mr. Pepper's tomato-gardening misadventures--which start when he follows instructions too literally (to ""dig and turn the soil,"" he digs himself into a hole, etc.), then escalate when he plants two hundred tomato plants. . . and inundates the neighborhood. The last tale involves Mr. Pepper's slapsticky attempts to earn money when his cookie-jar funds run low--by repairing TVs (he has to pay damages) and washing dogs (he gets everything else wet); he does, however, succeed at making toys-for-rent (he can't bear to sell them) and with the proceeds takes ever-cooking Mrs. Sunshine out to dinner. Mr. P. and Mrs. S. are genial caricatures, and the whole thing is flagrantly unoriginal; but it does read easily and breezily (""So Mrs. Sunshine went jogging down/the street./And Mr. Pepper planted his tomato/plants, one after another, in nice/long rows""). And, with its gay line drawings, it does look like a real book.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Atheneum