Children's LiteratureFramed within a live theater setting, this tale contains the elements of humor and pathos expected in the best of melodramas. Gracie Pearl, however, does not sit around waiting for a hero to rescue her from the clutches of Mr. Bigglebottom. Not only are her home and her father's land at stake if they cannot pay the mortgage, she will be obliged to marry the villain banker. Gracie Pearl immediately jumps on the pack mule and heads into town. She spots a blonde girl running from some bears, unties three pigs from the railroad tracks, discovers that the restaurant proprietor's goose no longer lays golden eggs, and searches unsuccessfully for Rumplestiltskin, finding Rapunzel instead. Throughout this trek she discovers that Mr. Bigglebottom has been at the bottom of all these characters' problems. Interesting as that may be, she does not find any gold. Returning dejectedly home, she sees her father and the dastardly banker talking. Mr. Bigglebottom grabs one of Gracie Pearl's arms and her pa grabs the other. In the ensuing frenzy, she kicks and stomps so frantically that her boots sink into the earth. A huge gush of black stuff shoots up, catapulting the banker high into the clouds. Gracie Pearl has found black gold. She and her pa live happily ever after. Rebus directions appear just before the title page and then throughout the book to encourage readers to join in the fun of the story with the traditional exclamations for the villain, the heroine, the aha moments, and the concluding "Hooray!" Brightly colored illustrations cover most of the space of each double-page spread and add to the overall enjoyment. A good choice for adults to share with children in introducing this old fashionedtype of drama. 2006, Peachtree, Ages 5 to 9.
Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.