NO, AGATHA! by Rachel Isadora


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On an Edwardian ocean liner, Agatha is en route to England with her parents, who expect the child to behave demurely like the other young ladies. But Agatha jumps on her berth, feeds bread to the gulls, plays leapfrog with the boys, and exposes herself to danger of freckles by failing to raise her parasol. Today's children will be struck more by the stuffiness of the period than by any spirit or unconventionality on Agatha's part. But Isadora shows the cruise in all its elegance too--a pretty place to look in on if you don't have to live there. In contrast, there's the sea and sky just over the railing to pull Agatha and readers into a gustier dimension. The cruise and the book end in a dance, where Agatha is about to ask one of the little boys to dance but her father holds her back: ""'No, dear. You must wait for Peter to ask you!' But Peter asks Victoria."" This seems too much like a women's lib lesson. (And would a kid like Agatha want to dance?) But then Agatha, on deck, reaches out and asks the moon to dance. ""Just then her mother calls her to bed. But in her dreams Agatha and the moon dance all night long."" And in Isadora's pictures one senses the union that has been beckoning all along. Like all this artist's picture books this has no story, but it is an atmospheric experience that puts you in Agatha's place.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1980
Publisher: Greenwillow