Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Tim Egan & illustrated by Tim Egan

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-00393-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

The ever-unique Egan (The Blunder of the Rogues, 1999, etc.) is back, and in peachy form, with this comical—believe it—tale of disappointment, mob rule, and rumor mongering. Preston the bear may be the checkers king of Ellington Lodge, but he is also negligent about his chores. So his wife accepts the offer of an itinerant dog, Marley, to paint the place in exchange for bed and board ("I learned to paint in France," notes the debonair Marley). Miraculously, the whole joint is painted by morning. Perhaps it was the unicycle Marley used that made all the difference, as seen in Egan's entertaining, tongue-in-cheek artwork, with its lovely bottle greens, barn reds, and inky purples. The next day, Marley whips up Eggs Florentine for breakfast ("I used to be a chef in Italy") before delivering a lecture in languages and a host of exotic stories. Then Marley steps on the banana peel: He beats Preston at checkers, snapping a 992-game streak. Vengeful, Preston starts dropping hints that Marley is a sorcerer. How else could he do all the things he does? The townsfolk start getting antsy: Doesn't legend say that sorcerers turn their enemies into ice? Soon the mob wants to run Marley out of town. Preston starts to feel the glimmerings of remorse, but it's too late. The crowd shows up at Marley's cabin and, lo, it is Marley who has been turned into ice. (" 'Wow,' said Jacob, 'I guess I heard that legend wrong!' ”) It's all a ruse, however, to show the townsfolk the evil of their ways ("I learned ice sculpting in Finland," admits Marley). Egan's arch humor and way with allegory couldn't be more finely tuned, even by a sorcerer dog. (Picture book. 4-8)