by Pat Cummings

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Off went the sneakers. On went the bows. Off went the jeans. On came the frills.'' Alex's mother and aunts have made a birthday dinner, but the African American girl is not pleased: her father, en route home from a trip, still hasn't arrived. Alex's grumpiness gets the best of her when her mother gives her the present her father has picked out--a miniature carousel--and the child realizes that he definitely won't make it home. Sent to bed without cake, Alex snaps the tiny zebra off the carousel. After falling asleep, she ``awakens'' to see it and the other carousel animals fly out the window--and magically grow. She follows, and is treated to a ride through the night sky on the festively painted creatures' backs. Her father is there when she wakes up in the morning, and after exchanging apologies (he for missing her birthday; she for breaking his gift), all ends happily. Though its message will reassure children dealing with anger, the story never takes wing, and the dream sequence seems gratuitous. The book's strong point is Cummings's ( Clean Your Room, Harvey Moon! ) affecting, vividly hued art, which depicts the realistic and the fanciful scenes with equal vibrancy. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Cummings has ably demonstrated her propensity for fantasy in C.L.O.U.D.S. (Lothrop, 1986) and for reality in Petey Moroni's Camp Runamok Diary (Bradbury, 1992). Here, she combines elements of both. Alex's disappointment at her father's failure to arrive home from a business trip in time for her birthday party overshadows all of her mother and aunts' attempts to provide fun and festivity. Finally, the child's bad temper leads to bad manners; roughly clutching the music-box carousel that is her father's gift to her, she storms off to her room. When she falls asleep, the animals come to life and she rides them through the night. She awakens to find her father, who is glad to be home and sorry to have missed her birthday. Alex, too, is sorry at having spoiled the party and broken the carousel, but is glad that her Dad is back. Cummings's brightly hued illustrations effectively portray both the real and dream worlds; bright pinks, blues, and greens dominate her palette. The African-American characters' faces evoke just the right emotions, while the carousel creatures populate the dreamscape convincingly. A family story that's perfect for sharing.-Jane Marino, Scarsdale Public Library, NY
Deborah Abbott
Upset that her father is not home for her birthday celebration as he promised, Alex pouts throughout the meal and the opening of presents. Although she appreciates her father's gift of a little carousel, she utters one last angry remark, and her mother sends her to bed without her cake. Not paying attention to where she placed the carousel, she jumps into bed and bumps it, breaking off the zebra. She falls asleep and dreams she follows the carousel animals out the window. They become life-size, and she happily rides them around the night sky, even apologizing to the zebra. When she awakes in the morning, her father is home, explaining that he felt as angry about not being with her as she did about his not being home. Although there is a slight stiffness in the writing, Cummings' vibrant double-page-spread illustrations depict the moods accurately and sensitively. The joyfulness in the dream scenes has instant child appeal. There are many ups and downs to birthday celebrations, and this book captures one beautifully.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
9.81(w) x 9.35(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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