Imagination gets top billing in this clever what-if picture book about the uncharted worlds that lie beneath the wooden stairs in young Jack's house. Jack and his faithful action-figure companion, Guy, routinely plot grand expeditions-to cities, forests and mountains-on their tall and narrow household staircase. When Jack discovers a hole in one of the stairs and realizes he's too large to see what's below, he quickly sends Guy on a reconnaissance mission "down, down, down." Jack's mind races thinking of what adventures Guy may be encountering-or worse yet, the fear and loneliness the solo action-figure might feel. Mom and Dad are too busy to help, so there's nothing left to do but mount an elaborate rescue effort with toy trucks and volunteers. Crews's (The Neighborhood Mother Goose) carefully paced text and crisp color photo collages capture the energetic sense of fun and palpable concern that are part of many boys' real-life fascination with action-figures and their vividly plotted exploits. Shadowy under-the-stairs scenes feature Guy starring in activities imagined by Jack and drawn in a thick white line, paying a bit of homage to Harold's Purple Crayon. This fanciful look at play will likely hit high notes with young readers. Ages 3-6. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Guy is Jack's small action figure. Up and down the stairs they go, with Jack's imagination supplying adventures galore. As they explore they find a hole in the stairs that Guy is small and brave enough to explore. Once he has fallen in, however, Jack is afraid of what he may encounter down there. Since his mother and father are busy Jack resolves to rescue Guy by himself. With his crane he extricates not only Guy but various other long lost items as well. The brief, simply told story reaches a satisfying conclusion. The double-page spreads offer lots of room for Crews' settings of toys and the convenient stairs. To compose her scenes Crews exploits the computer to digitally color-correct and manipulate 35mm color photographs along with line drawings and black-and-white photographs; those of the dragons, horses, and more below the stairs are drawn with startling white lines. Jack is an appealing hero, sure to stimulate the imagination of readers, in particular those with adventure figures of their own. 2006, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 3 to 6.
Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
PreS-Gr 2-Crews uses digitally manipulated photos and line drawings along with brief text to relate the adventures of Jack and his action-figure toy, Guy. They live in a "narrow house with many stairs" that provides them with opportunities for creative play. The stairs become mountains to climb, forests to explore, and, when Jack's cars and other toys are added to the fun, cities to visit. But one day Guy falls through a hole in the stairs, and Jack worries about what might be happening to him below. Fearful that Guy might have to deal with dragons, wild horses, or-perhaps worse-be all alone, the child uses his crane and other action figures to effect a rescue. Most illustrations are large colorful spreads, while white line drawings against the stark black ground of Guy's "below" world under the stairs provide sharp contrast. This story, along with Mini Grey's Traction Man Is Here! (Knopf, 2005), will surely inspire young readers to see everyday objects in a new light.-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Using a mix of manipulated photography and line drawing, Crews places a lad with a wooden toy companion on a painted staircase next to a small, enticing hole. Jack and little Guy have many play adventures on the steps, but the scariest of all comes when Jack drops Guy through the hole into the darkness beneath. What could be down there? Dragons? Wild horses? Maybe toys? That last guess turns out to be a good one. Having unsuccessfully tried to enlist some parental help, Jack brings out his toy crane and recovers not only Guy, but a toy soldier, a brass button and several other items as well. Alternating views of Jack on the white, brightly lit steps above with Guy suspended in near darkness below, Crews expertly captures the mini-episode's drama, as well as the inexhaustible possibilities of stairs as playscapes. (Picture book. 5-7)