Book review: 'Bridget's Beret' by Tom Lichtenheld; 'Shark vs. Train' by Chris Barton

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


By Tom Lichtenheld

Henry Holt.

$16.99, ages 4-8


By Chris Barton

Illustrated by

Tom Lichtenheld

Little Brown.

$16.99, ages 4-8

In this ode to art, artists and -- improbably -- artist's blocks, Tom Lichtenheld conjures up a young lass who liked "to draw as much as other kids liked ice cream." But when her oh-so-arty beret is swept away by a gust of wind, she finds that more than her hat has disappeared. A "Missing Beret Report" gets no results, and a variety of hats -- from cowboy to coonskin and pith to propeller -- fail to inspire her. So she does "what any self-respecting artist would do": cries, pouts, sulks and feels sorry for herself. How she powers through her angst and reaches new artistic heights form the story's unexpectedly clever denouement and the perfect link to the final double-page spread: a series of miniature Old Masters paired with "Bridget-approved ideas for inspiring yourself, based on techniques used by many famous beret-wearing artists." Also not to be missed is Lichtenheld's visually clever take on the power of play in Chris Barton's "Shark vs. Train." Two lively young lads excavate the toy box. One grabs a shark ("GRRRRR"), the other a train ("CHUGRRR-CHUG"), and each instantly disappears into his chosen persona. Who wins the ensuing battles depends entirely on who chooses the game. Riding in a hot air balloon? Train's weight sends him plunging earthward ("AAAiieee!"). Roasting marshmallows? Shark's drippy fins put out the fire ("drat!"). And if detente and lunch are synonymous, well, that's what kids (and happy endings) are all about.

-- Kristi Jemtegaard

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