Readers may need guidance deciphering some of the words in Bloom's (Touch Mi, Touch Mi) rhythmic verse, presented in the Jamaican Patwa dialect; while the glossary defines such fruits as guinep, pawpaw and naseberry, readers are on their own for lines like "Ten banana, mek dem stay." But they'll pick up on the poem's ebullience without a hitch, lured into conspiracy with two spirited and sneaky sisters. The oldest sibling, the impish narrator, playfully teases her sister: after finding seven mangoes, she proclaims "One fe you an' six fe me,/ If you want more, climb de tree." Elsewhere she contemplates two guavas she has hidden on a shelf: "When night come an' it get dark/ Me an' dem will have a talk." The book has a pleasing visual balance, positioning text and a close-up rendering of each variety of fruit on the left-hand page opposite a sun-drenched, full-bleed painting of the two children either coveting, hiding, pilfering or consuming these Caribbean treats. First-time illustrator Axtell gives his oil paintings a grainy, stippled appearance, letting the texture of the canvas show through and adding vivid splashes of color. His evocation of the poem's lush tropical setting and brightly painted buildings offers a lively backdrop for Bloom's bouncy poem. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
- Marilyn Courtot
In a lilting Jamaican dialect one little girl and her sister find a variety of fruits around their house. After sharing and consuming many more than she should, our little girl has a tummy ache and must go to bed. An introduction to a variety of tropical fruits and bright warm painting that show the Caribbean girls, their house and a bit of the environment. The text was first published in 1992, but this is a new package with Axtell's delightful oils. A glossary at the beginning identifies many of these unusual fruits.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2A mischievous counting poem that mimics the cadence and rhythm of the Jamaican language, Patwa, and introduces children to some familiar and exotic tropical fruits. An older sister stealthily sneaks fruits from obvious and hidden places throughout the house and around the yard. Little sister tags along hoping to enjoy a few tasty pieces. The phonetically spelled text is printed on the left-hand side of the book above an illustration of the featured fruit (half of a pawpaw, one guinep, two guava). The number of pieces of fruit is stated, but the numerical symbol is not presented. On the opposite page, Axtell's colorful, full-page paintings capture the warm, sun-splashed colors of the tropics. The expressionistic, oil-on-canvas-board art emphasizes the poem's tone. Big sister's expression of stomach pain at the end of the book will not surprise most readers. Understanding the dialect may be difficult for youngsters, but adults who can read it aloud can share a humorous, childlike poem with their audience.Marie Wright, University Library, Indianapolis, IN