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The matter-of-fact recounting of the absurd mishaps experienced by the Daffodil String Quartet on their way to a concert. The fun begins when cellist Sidney Periwinkle, who insists on driving despite being nearsighted, mistakes a large drain pipe for an upcoming tunnel. The quartet lands in an open excavation where car and cello are crushed by a compacter. Will the quartet arrive at the concert in time? In their effort to do so they hitch rides on a truck full of tires, a hot bakery van and then a refrigerated frozen-vegetable truck, a traveling circus, and (for all four) one pair of skis. (There's also a brief stopover in a prison, which they reach accidentally through an old manhole.) On the way, Marcus Snowdrop's violin gets stuck in a tire, Jerome Crocus' violin gets stuck to the vegetables (""Before leaving [the truck] they had to pay for the three pounds of string beans frozen onto it""), the ski man lends Sidney an alpen horn, and--the funniest development, as pictured--William Hyacinth's viola is swallowed by a boa constrictor. But the ""spring quartet in E minor, for string beans, alpen horn, tirelin and viola constrictor. . . was very beautiful. The audience. . . was thrilled. The boa was. . . tickled pink. . . and one by one the frozen string beans dropped to the floor at just the right moments."" The pictures' gray background and scratchy but sure black line drawings reinforce the impression of foggy befuddlement; and, viewed closely, they also offer some hilarious portraits of the quartet members and the situations they land in. Not every picture book audience will catch the throwaway drollery, verbal and visual, but the amusement for those who do offsets the limited appeal.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum