"Realistic illustrations salt-and-pepper the saucy tale with wry humor, comeuppance, and down-home flavor. Amusing." Kirkus Review
"Perfectly matched to the text in tone, the watercolor-and-graphite illustrations capture the action...pictures are large enough to share with a group, and independent readers will enjoy this humorous story on their own." School Library Journal
"Roth's cheerful art echoes the energy and folksiness of the tale...Whether fond of tomatoes or not, kids will find this a flavorsome romp." Publishers Weekly
Esbaum's breezy first children's book introduces a pair of siblings who, spending a week at Granny's, are given two very different missions. Likeable narrator Annabelle is charged with keeping her younger brother out of trouble (no small feat, since "Willie and trouble went together like biscuits and gravy") and helping her grandmother put up the tomato garden, while Willie's task is a simpler one: "To play." And, while his sister sets out to wash a mountain of newly picked tomatoes, play he does, pestering the goat, lassoing chickens and climbing the windmill, antics Annabelle is powerless to prevent. After being served stewed tomatoes for dinner (not Annabelle's favorite), the girl continues to toil, helping Granny make equally detested tomato juice. In the wry denouement, Willie misbehaves once again and scares a skunk and Annabelle is delighted with the remedy for the situation (hint: it requires every last jar of tomato juice). Filled with comical images, Roth's (The Sign Painter's Dream) cheerful art echoes the energy and folksiness of the tale. Many of his illustrations feature a wide-eyed Annabelle staring out at readers, and clearly communicate her affection for Willie even when he's naughty. Whether fond of tomatoes or not, kids will find this a flavorsome romp. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Text and pictures are perfectly blended to tell a rip-roaring story about a visit by Annabelle and her little brother Willie to Granny's farm. Annabelle has been recruited for the week to help Granny "put up the garden." At the same time, she's supposed to keep Willie out of trouble. Neither task is easy. The garden ends up being tomatoeswhich she hatesand Willie is more than a handful. Annabelle is a real stoic, cleaning the tomatoes, putting up with their smell, and finding ways to avoid eating them. She also does the best she can with Willie, who still gets away with all kinds of stunts. Willie gets his comeuppance, however, when he tangles with a skunk. Stink soup baths, made of oodles of canned tomatoes, are the only remedy for removing the skunk smell. Not only does Willie get punished by a Granny whipping and a stink soup bath, but Annabelle is rewarded by getting rid of all the tomatoesalmost! And that's where the pictures come in. The story is amplified and embellished by watercolors showing action shots of Willie riding on a goat-driven cart into a pond or shouting at the skunk whose big tail is up, or the final still-shot of rows of tomatoes still waiting on their vines! The text uses down home language and imagery, and both kids and parents should enjoy it. 2004, Farrar Straus Giroux, and Ages 5 to 9.
Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D.
Gr 1-4-Two youngsters are spending the week at their grandmother's farm. Annabelle has been volunteered to help Granny put up tomato juice, even though she hates tomatoes. As if that job weren't bad enough, she must also keep an eye on her mischievous little brother. Willie stays busy making trouble while Annabelle makes juice. He teases the goat, climbs the windmill, and smashes eggs against the barn. As in many cases, the older sister gets the blame for the antics of her not-so-innocent younger sibling. Granny doesn't catch on until Willie tangles with a skunk. Then the situation gets malodorous and the only cure is Granny's "stink soup"-a tomato juice bath. Willie's antics move the story along quickly, while Annabelle's narrative gives a ring of truth to the sibling relationship and the boy's escapades. Perfectly matched to the text in tone, the watercolor-and-graphite illustrations capture the action. The breezy cartoon style adeptly depicts the characters' personalities and emotions. Although the narrative may be a bit long for younger children, the pictures are large enough to share with a group, and independent readers will enjoy this humorous story on their own.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Spending a week at Granny's is not Annabelle's idea of fun for two reasons: she has to be in charge of making her little brother, Willie, behave and she has to help Granny put up mountains of tomatoes. Annabelle can't stand doing either thing because she hates tomatoes-and Willie and trouble go together like biscuits and gravy. When he drives the hay bale cart pulled by Chester the goat into the pond, or lassoes chickens, or climbs the windmill, Granny doesn't see his mischief-making and blames Annabelle. When Granny sends Willie to the cellar with eggs, he doesn't close the cellar doors and a polecat gets in and they all get skunked. Granny makes "stink soup" as the only remedy to rid them of the smell, and the tomato bath saves the day for everybody. The realistic illustrations salt-and-pepper the saucy tale with wry humor, comeuppance, and down-home flavor. Amusing. (Picture book. 4-7)