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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Mega-pop star turned children's book author Madonna follows up her first world-renowned picture book with a second lesson-teaching tale, this time about "the power of words." Basing her warmly illustrated adaptation on a 300-year-old Ukrainian story, Madonna sets the stage in 1940s Happville, a small American town where Mr. Peabody coaches the Little League team and his players care more about playing ball than winning. After baseball practices, Mr. Peabody usually grabs an apple from Mr. Funkadeli's market, but when a curious Tommy Tittlebottom begins thinking that his baseball coach doesn't pay for them, the gossip mill around Happville cranks up. Soon, the town's rumor-target catches wind of all the goings-on and confronts Tommy, instructing the boy to shear open a pillow, release the feathers inside, and pick them all up. When the confused boy confesses that "'I don't think it's possible to pick up all the feathers,'" Mr. Peabody explains the lesson that Tommy should learn.
Leaving behind the modern tone of her blockbuster The English Roses, Madonna delivers her universal moral message in clear, honest text that spins its look and feel to Americana. Loren Long's brilliant artwork especially shines through, elevating the author's words with deep, slow-moving scenes and countryside colors that blissfully transport you back to the mid-20th century. Dedicated to teachers (in an afterword), this trouble-in-a-small-town read takes you by the hand and illuminates. Matt Warner