PreS-Gr 2-Every Friday evening, five children play together, and often they see Joseph, the ``odd-job man,'' as he sits outside his nearby shop. They make fun of him for carrying around a tin filled with junk. One day Lena, the youngest child, approaches Joseph and watches, fascinated, as he pulls from his tin a string that he turns into ``pictures''-a cup and saucer and a house. He gives her a shell so she can hear the sea and then fashions a ``magic chain'' out of old can tabs, which he gives to Lena. Wearing the necklace, the little girl dances gracefully, looking like a princess, and the other children, impressed, feel the power of the imagination. Nowhere in the text is the setting specified-the children's world is that of the yard, the street, the trees and fields, and the neighboring shop, but both author and illustrator live in South Africa. Text and illustrations complement one another well, and page breaks heighten the drama of the story and its resolution. This quiet, appealing book will remind readers of Niki Daly's Not So Fast, Songololo (McElderry, 1986), and of Karen Lynn Williams's Galimoto (Lothrop, 1990), which also celebrates the imaginative potential of everyday objects.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Lena is the smallest of the neighborhood children who play in the street and the yard during the evening. Joseph, the odd-job man, shows her his "special tin," which is full of magical odds and ends. A storyteller, Joseph makes string figures from old twine, a silver necklace from pop tops, and a princess out of Lena, showing the children how to find magic in the (apparently) unmagical. Hartmann's spare, poetic text is enriched by its marriage to Daly's energetic, evocative watercolors. The radiant facial expressions of the children and old Joseph are matched only by the characters' free-wheeling dance through Hartmann's tale. Whether read aloud or read alone, this is an effective and affecting combination of text and illustration.