One person's trash is another's treasure, as this tale of a resourceful recycler demonstrates. Yet the tart pinks, yellows and greens and the slightly askew rhymes here don't add up to an entirely pleasing whole. An unnamed girl narrates; as she describes her mother's attachment to ``old things,'' Westcott (Skip to My Lou) illustrates creative uses for egg cartons (planters), scrap metal (a slide) and flour bags (awnings). A refrain (``Round and round and round again,/ over yonder and back again'') punctuates accounts of the mother's obsessive collecting habits. Eventually, the mother builds the family a mountainous home of secondhand items (``She took a bunch of worn-out doors./ She laid them flat to make the floors''), then ``painted the whole house rainbow plaid.'' Van Laan (Possum Come A-Knockin') sometimes stretches to reach her rhymes, and her main character comes off as more of a maniac than an eccentric. Westcott, too, goes overboard even as she evokes the amusement-park whirl of the narrative-her cluttered scenes and busy colors prove exhausting to the eyes. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-Need something fun when Earth Day or that conservation unit rolls around? Van Laan's preposterous tale of Mama, the most creative recycler in town, will fit the bill. This woman builds a house from all the items people no longer have use for-doors become floors and boat frames doors, kitchen spatulas make suitable roof tiles-she lets nothing escape her clever hand. Told in verse, the rhyme can be awkward at times, but this is more than compensated for by the outlandish pen-and-ink drawings enhanced by eye-catching gouache that inundate each page with humor. Silly though it is, the point is well made that recycling is a noble cause and that almost everything, if carefully considered, can have a second (or third) life. Other fictional treatments of the subject might include Loreen Leedy's The Great Trash Bash (Holiday, 1991) or Olivia Newton-John and Brian S. Hurst's A Pig Tale (S.&S., 1993), but this is one of the better ones available.-Dot Minzer, North Barrington School, Barrington, IL
Mary Harris Veeder
Mama is a recycler. Her brightly colored living room is a fantasy of "I could make something out of that!" Basketball hoops and puppets are only the beginning; Mama builds a house, paints it rainbow plaid, and decorates it with old neon signs. The "round and round" refrain is catchy, and the humor of Mom's antics prevents preachiness. The zany artwork in gouache and pen-and-ink adds to the fun.