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The Best Picnic Ever

Overview

Mom packs the picnic, and Jack brings the dancing menagerie in this summery salute to a child’s imagination.

When there’s a giraffe going gallopy gallopy, an elephant trumpeting tootley-toot-toot, a leopard leaping lollopy lollopy, and a tiger tap-tap dancing in the park, then you should know it’s going to be a very unusual day! With sprightly, childlike illustrations and a bouncy read-aloud text, Clare Jarrett spreads a picture-book feast for ...

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Overview

Mom packs the picnic, and Jack brings the dancing menagerie in this summery salute to a child’s imagination.

When there’s a giraffe going gallopy gallopy, an elephant trumpeting tootley-toot-toot, a leopard leaping lollopy lollopy, and a tiger tap-tap dancing in the park, then you should know it’s going to be a very unusual day! With sprightly, childlike illustrations and a bouncy read-aloud text, Clare Jarrett spreads a picture-book feast for THE BEST PICNIC EVER.

While his mother prepares a picnic, Jack invites a giraffe, an elephant, and other animals to lunch and each eagerly agrees, as long as they can play first.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At first, it looks like Jack's al fresco lunch in the park is going to be strictly a mother-son affair. But no sooner does Jack say, "I wish there was someone to play with," than a cheery giraffe appears. Jack asks Giraffe to lunch; the animal accepts, "But first-let's play!" Jack sits astride Giraffe and the two go "gallopy, gallopy through the tall grass" while Mom finishes setting up. Jarrett (Catherine and the Lion) sets her colored-pencil drawings against expanses of white space-only Mom and the picnic blanket feel especially grounded-and the pictures have the spontaneity and joie de vivre of a classroom art project. A few scraggly marks serve as grass, while enthusiastic squiggles constitute clouds or a tree's crown; the curvilinear form of the giraffe captures the energy and length of his stride. Jack and Giraffe meet a succession of other playmates-a trumpeting elephant ("tootley-toot-toot"), a leaping leopard ("lollopy, lollopy") and a tap-dancing tiger-and when Mom finally has the spread ready, it's everything a kid could wish for: hot dogs, pizza, chocolate cake and strawberries. With simple-hearted whimsy and celebratory, imaginative spirit, Jarrett lays out a treat, too-a picture-book banquet few readers will likely resist. Ages 2-5. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
When Jack and his mother go to picnic in the park, it turns out to be a fantastic happening to cheer any lonely child. As he wishes for someone to play with, animals respond to his picnic invitation one by one. "How kind of you to ask," says Giraffe. "But first let's play." And they go "gallopy, gallopy through the tall grass." "How kind of you . . . But first . . ." says Elephant. They go "tootley-toot-too," while Giraffe goes "gallopy, gallopy." Leopard adds "great long lolloping leaps," and Tiger taps; they all are going faster and faster until "the most delicious picnic" is ready to be shared. Of course, then Jack says thanks to all for "the best picnic ever." Young readers should enjoy sharing his fantasy as well. Simply sketched characters with hints of foliage and more detailed picnic treats are produced with colored pencils. There is a delicacy in the sensitive interpretations of these jungle creatures that should appeal to the young as the story is being read with the sing-song repetitions. There is nothing of the jungle in these playful friends. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 to 6.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-K-While his mom sets out a picnic in the park, Jack wishes for a playmate. When a giraffe appears, he happily agrees to join in a bit of a gallop. An elephant then suggests some trumpeting ("tootley-toot-toot") and the giraffe gallops behind. Jack's parade soon includes a leaping leopard and a dancing tiger as well. When Mom announces that it's time to eat, they all enjoy the "hot dogs, pizza, chocolate cake, and strawberries" and agree that this picnic was the best ever. As in Catherine and the Lion (Carolrhoda, 1996; o.p.), Jarrett introduces a youngster who creates imaginary playmates to solve a universal problem of childhood. The simple and repetitive text is perfectly suited to this straightforward and sweetly innocent adventure with a slightly British feel. From the endpapers with their loosely crayoned leaves that look as though a child could have drawn them to the buoyant and cheerful characters leaping through wispy grass, this paean to the joy of a robust imagination has great child appeal. Don't be surprised if young listeners decide to join in Jack's imaginary fun and trumpet, leap, and dance a bit themselves.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With big, loosely drawn color-pencil sketches, Jarrett lays out a minimal but tempting playscape: a seemingly deserted park that sprouts large and delightful friends for a solitary lad to romp with while his unflappable mother lays out a picnic. Young readers will envy Jack when a giraffe, an elephant, a leopard, and a tiger appear in response to his lonely plaint. Each politely accepts his invitation to sup later, but as for now, "let's play!" Jarrett fills her repeating, cumulative tale with words that are fun to say aloud-"Leopard went lollopy lollopy, and Elephant went tootley-toot-toot, and Giraffe went gallopy, gallopy behind them"-and ends, after a hearty meal of "hot dogs, pizza, chocolate milk, and strawberries," with fond good-bye waves all round. Would that every visit to the park could feature such a satisfying rumpus. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763623708
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 2 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.13 (w) x 12.13 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Clare Jarrett is the author and illustrator of three children’s books, including CATHERINE AND THE LION, for which she received the prestigious Mother Goose Award as the most exciting newcomer to British children’s book illustration. She has worked as a fine art painter and printmaker and has exhibited her work internationally. She lives in Norfolk, England.
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