So what does it take to beat a trickster (Granny Trick) and the devil in one fell swoop? Well if you are a crafty boy and a wise old dog, like Jack and Skinny Bones, all you need is a stack of pancakes. Yes, pancakes. Though she is a villainous con-woman, Granny Trick is a charmer in her own way, particularly when she sells a pair of fine lizard-skin shoes that walk away without its owner. Primavera's illustrations are well suited to the darkly humorous and twisting nature of the story. Recounted in the grand tradition of the American Tall Tale, but in reality a folktale for the 90's.
PreS-Gr 2The familiar and the new combine in this comic tale of innocence triumphing over wickedness, while the Southwestern setting adds spice to the mix. When Skinny Bones, a kindhearted dog, finds Jack, an abandoned baby, he takes him home to Granny Trick's house. Granny ("...a sneaky old woman and hot-tempered as a pepper") teaches Jack all her tricks, which help him out when the devil comes to call. This original tall tale calls on a variety of literary traditions; it's a fast-moving, involving story that children will love. Anyone with the right type of dramatic flair will have great fun reading it aloud. Helldorfer has a gift for this type of story and this type of imagery (when Skinny Bones finds Jack in the desert, instead of tears he's crying "big balls of dust.") And Primavera's lively pictures, done with gouache, gesso, and pastels, are a perfect match. They add atmosphere, character, and a generous dollop of humor (her devil has a goatee, a Pinocchio nose, and a well-tailored suit). Overall, a winning effort that won't sit on the shelves.Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL