This second posthumously published work by the late Mahy, after The Man from the Land of Fandango, is distinctive and full of sly humor. Mister Whistler loves to dance so much that when his Great-Aunt Lydia calls him for help washing her windows, he can barely tear himself away. He heads for the train station, puts his ticket between his teeth for safekeeping, checks for a clean handkerchief, then panics: “No ticket!” Every pocket is empty (viewers can see the ticket clenched between his teeth the whole time), and he strips down to his polka-dotted boxers in a frenzy that’s half ticket-hunt and half dance: “Mister Whistler spun in wild circles, keeping time with the music in his head.” Entertained onlookers put money in his hat—which, it turns out, he needs to fund another ticket purchase. Bishop’s ink-and-watercolor drawings perform as brilliantly as Mister Whistler himself, showing the action clearly and giving the lines and drape of Mister Whistler’s generous tweed coat the grace of a dancing partner. This is the kind of picture book that families fall in love with. Ages 4–up. (Feb.)
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A ribbon of musical notes takes us through the pages of the story of Mister Whistler. He wakes up from singing and dancing in his sleep to the telephone. His Great-Aunt Lydia demands that he come immediately to clean her smeary windows. Across the double pages we see him don each item of his clothing. The song continues to dance in his head as he mentally checks his list on the way to the station. Clutching his ticket in his teeth as he checks his pockets, he panics when the ticket is not there. Across the pages we follow him and his music as he takes off every item of clothing in his search. People applaud his dance as he discovers the ticket. Further amusing misadventures follow until he finally ends his musical journey on the train. Bishop’s ink and watercolor, mostly double-page, stylized illustrations are accompanied by lines of a musical score first on the jacket/cover and end pages and on through. Mister Whistler’s dancer body energetically dresses, undresses, and reassembles. We find him at rest in the final scene, next to an attractive blonde on the train, hinting at further adventures. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Young movers and shakers will find a kindred spirit in Mister Whistler. He always has a song in his head, a dance coursing through his body, and a difficult time concentrating on anything else. A telephone call from Great-Aunt Lydia awakens him from a tangled-in-sheets, toe-tapping reverie; he dresses quickly in response to her request regarding window washing. Giggles will ensue when Whistler appears in long polka-dotted boxers and dons checkered pants, a striped shirt, a wildly patterned "waistcoat," and a long fur-trimmed coat before heading to the train station. Bishop's illustrations evoke an old-world feel, and his strong diagonal lines, busy patterns, and constantly changing positions create a convincing sense of energy as the protagonist jives to the flowing musical notes in every scene. Mistress of the appropriate rhythm for every narrative arc, Mahy picks up the pace as Whistler hustles to the station: "Am I neatly dressed? Yes! Neat as a pin. Have I got my ticket? Yes! It's here in my hand. Do I have a nice clean freshly ironed handkerchief? Let me check." She punctuates paragraphs with shorter phrases as he anxiously undresses (much to the amusement of the gathering passengers) to search for his ticket. Children will enjoy being in on its whereabouts and may guess at a solution the first-and second-time he needs one. Pair this with other favorite dance books, e.g., George Ancona's Let's Dance (HarperCollins, 1998), and then get up and boogie. The Locomotion, anyone?—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library
This sprightly, whimsical tale will induce plenty of giggles and start toes to tapping. Mister Whistler is dreaming of singing and dancing when a phone call from his great-aunt awakens him; she needs him to come over right away. As he puts on each article of clothing, his feet keep dancing. They dance all the way to the train station, where he buys a ticket. But when he needs it, he can't find it, so he proceeds to take off each item of clothing, all the way down to his underwear, trying to find his ticket. But all the while he's disrobing and dancing, he's clenching the ticket in his teeth! Other passengers toss coins in his discarded hat. He dons his clothes and boards the train only to lose the ticket again--but he buys one with the money he made. The artwork perfectly plays out the capriciousness of the comic story. Bishop clearly had fun designing the clothes: polka-dot boxers, blue checked trousers, a harlequin waistcoat (also the pattern on the endpapers) and big green coat with a fur collar. Mahy's inimitable sense of whimsy informs the plot, and her rock-solid sense of rhythm invests her prose with musicality: "He felt in his big coat pockets. Right? No! Left? No! Top left? Ah! Good!" This romp fits in beautifully with Mahy's other wacky picture books; pair it with Song and Dance Man for a lively read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-7)