K-Gr 3-- Too poor to buy the latest in fashion, Aunt Hilarity embarks on some disastrous attempts to make her own. After studying magazines, she first constructs a bustle from an old grain sack stuffed with hay, but the sack is infested with fleas. Lively illustrations show an acrobatic woman as she tries to relieve her itching. Undaunted, she washes the sack and stuffs it with old paint rags, and when she stands too close to a candle, it bursts into flames. Amos Ledbetter throws punch on the flames only to drench Mrs. Anna Belle Prather in the process. Thus begins the biggest food fight Willow Flats has ever had. Ever-determined, Aunt Hilarity constructs a bustle from chicken-wire. Finishing it in time for the Christmas Ball, she dons her latest creation with pride. However, while dancing, it begins to unravel, beginning a chain of events that ends with the woman wearing the Christmas tree. Aunt Hilarity's family and the townsfolk are comically illustrated in pen, ink and watercolor. Children will giggle with delight at the slapstick spectacles this slave of fashion creates. A funny story about a heroine with plenty of spark.-- Michelle M. Strazer, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL
Aunt Hilarity is determined to acquire a bustle like those worn by the models she has seen in fashion magazines. Since such a thing is unheard of in Willow Flats, she is forced to design and make her own. Her hay-filled bustle is full of fleas, her paint rag appendage is highly flammable, and her chicken-wire creation comes unsprung. Ketteman's story hilariously satirizes the excesses of fashion while Warhola's illustrations have an exuberant, slapstick quality that brings Hilarity's wackiness to life. This book is bound to be a winner with the preschool set and with early readers as a read-aloud or read-alone laugh riot.