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Nora's Surprise

Nora's Surprise

by Satomi Ichikawa

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-K-Stunning artwork illustrates a problematic story about a feast turned free-for-all. The tale begins when Nora accepts an invitation to a garden party hosted by two geese. There she meets Benjy the sheep, who eats everything in sight, including her gift of flowers and all of the cucumber sandwiches and raspberry jam. The child gives Benjy the business several times, telling him he is greedy, fat, and ruining the party. In the end, after he is shorn, he apologizes and gives Nora a sweater, allowing her to conclude that ``He was a kind, generous sheep after all.'' Fatness, or bulky wool, and overeating are difficulties for Benjy, but eating flowers is doing what comes sheep-naturally! Only when the group can use him does he gain acceptance. He's not so much ungenerous, as he is out-of-bounds. Ichikawa's watercolors are masterful. Each figure, whether animal, toy, or person, is full of life, humor, and expression in every gesture. Readers will walk right into her landscapes and taste each morsel of food. Small wonder the party-goers pitch into the platters when ``Benjy stuck his head into the cucumber sandwiches.'' A tough call overall: story conflict a bit off-target, but a perfect 10 for the paintings!-Jacqueline Elsner, Athens Regional Library, GA
Karen Harvey
In a brisk adventure, translated from the Japanese, the ever-appealing Nora returns with her friends Maggie the doll, Teddy the bear, and Kiki the dog. In this story, they receive an invitation to a tea party to be given by the "geese in the wood on the edge of the village." The tea party becomes a picnic when the geese's large neighbor, Benjy the sheep, can't fit through the house's door. Benjy proves himself a glutton and turns the picnic into a free-for-all, wreaking havoc until everyone settles down for a much needed nap. Waking to find Benjy gone, Nora and her friends run to the rescue, discovering the sheep being shorn of his wool. The story concludes with a postscript: Benjy sends Nora a note of apology along with a lovely wool sweater, proving he's a "kind, generous sheep after all." As always, Ichikawa's clear, delicate watercolors carry the story, delineating with equal skill the total abandon of the ruined picnic, Benjy's abashed face, and the peaceful, napping faces of Nora and her friends. Another appealing offering from the creator of "Nora's Castle" (1986).

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st American ed
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.82(h) x 0.39(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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