A deadpan telling relates the proper habits of gray-haired Emmie Marshwater, who has been a lady in high heels and white gloves for a long time. She remembers being the wildest little girl on the block, until she was shamed into correct behavior by her mother. But with the arrival of a two pudgy, playful platypusessent by an Australian relative``ladylikeness'' begins to slip away from Miss Marshwater. A and Bea are cherubic companions for her, even though they may be behind the disappearance of her high heels. She grows messier and happier each day, buying kiwifruit and playing Bach for them, and watching with joy as Bea hatches babies Cee and Dee. This affectionate tale of transformation is bursting with humor and good will; Krause, who illustrated last year's jolly The Santa Clauses, here creates jovial black-and-white illustrations of Miss Marshwater's carefully regulated routines dissipating while her life grows daily more chaoticand more snug. Ages 7-10. (November)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4 Donnelly's rollicking tale is sure to capture the hearts of young readers, who are all too familiar with having to behave according to the expectations of their elders. Emmie was a wild little girl, but, after many reprimands from her mother, she's grown up to be Miss Marshwatera true lady. She plays the harpsichord, and she never slurps her tea. Then she receives a large and mysterious package from Cousin Everett in Australia. The contents of the package are both amazing and terrifyinga pair of duck-billed platypuses, A and Bea. The platypuses cook, clean, and repeat everything that Miss M. says. Needless to say, it doesn't take long for A and Bea to find the many chinks in Miss Marshwater's ladylike armor and a way into her heart. Suddenly, Emmie Marshwater rediscovers the joy of comfortable shoes, uncombed hair, rolling on the floor, and just being Emmie. A and Bea are a winning and whimsical pair who provide a delightful vehicle for Emmie's fall from ladyhood. A skillful translation retains the humor of the tale, while providing an easy-to-read text that is ideally suited to those readers making their first foray into longer books with fewer illustrations. Krause's black-and-white cartoons visually chronicle the disintegration of Miss Marshwater's facade with subtle humor; A and Bea are as appealing as their innane, echoic dialogue. Let's hope that the fortuitous arrival of Cee and Dee signals the possibility of a sequel. Jeanne Marie Clancy, Wolfsohn Memorial Library, King of Prussia, Pa.