What would we do without our friends? Life would be a bleak and lonely prospect indeed. Priscilla and Rosy are rats who are best friends. They live behind a restaurant, working all week pilfering food and "scaring lots of people". On their day off, Rosy invites Priscilla to come over and put together her new puzzle and Priscilla agrees. But when another friend, Rudolph, asks her to come sailing on his uncle's boat, she promptly forgets all about the puzzle. When Priscilla is reminded by Rosy of her previous commitment, her loyalty to Rosy wins out, except that, getting to Rosy's house, she discovers her pal sick in bed, and to make matters worse, Rudolph has already found someone else to take out on the boat. After a day spent looking for things to do and feeling sorry for herself, Priscilla thinks of poor Rosy, all alone, sick in bed and hurries over to keep her company.
Priscilla and Rosy are very engaging rats and their story will appeal to the sensibilities of a younger child. Everything about the story feels just right, from Priscilla's excitement at the prospect of a boat ride to her anger and disappointment when she remembers her commitment to Rosy. How many of us, young and old, have made plans and then tried to weasel out of them when something better came along? When reminded of Rosy and her puzzle, Priscilla's response is perfect¨she sticks out her tongue and says "Oh, pooh". When everything works out the way it should, there is no cheap sentimentality, and no false modesty on the part of Priscilla. Rosy declares Priscilla to be a very good friend and Priscilla agrees, "Yes, I am."
Linda Hendry's illustrations work well with the story. In her rat's eye view, we get an interesting mix of the human and the rat While her rats are dressed in children's clothes and have a child-like look about them, she has cleverly kept them anchored in a real landscape. Food is human-sized, Priscilla talks to Rosy on a real telephone and their rat-sized furniture is made from real objects, for example, HB pencil stubs used as table legs. The pictures are crammed full of bits and pieces that make the ratty neighbourhood come alive. The characters are full of life too, and the best picture in the book is that of Priscilla sticking out her tongue. So satisfying! Sharon Jennings thinks so too, and suggests that we may have more stories of Priscilla and Rosy doing "lots of things she can't do".
Two friends we already know and love, Bing and Chutney, are back for a third adventure in Bing and Chutney off to Moosonee. This time, Bing, the baker, and Chutney, the dancer, set out on a picnic to Moosonee. They plan to take the streetcar but the streetcar driver is fast asleep, so Chutney takes the wheel. Soon Cow, Giraffe, Zebra, Kangaroo and Rooster join them on their adventure. As the streetcar trundles along, excitement overcomes the animals and they accidentally toss the picnic basket out the window where it is crushed by the streetcar. Bing and Chutney pull the picnic basket out, set up their picnic right then and there and save the day for everyone even if they haven't made it as far as their destination.
Author/illustrator, Andrea Wayne von Konigslow, has written a charming tale of friendship and adventure. Her dancing elephant and cooking pig are totally endearing and make perfect companions for the very young reader. Her pictures are light and dreamy as befits the imaginative nature of the story. Streetcars and elephants alike seem to float in this fanciful world. Friendship, love and a bit of quick thinking are all that is required for happy times. And don't forget big cookies, for which the author has included the recipe!
Mary Anne Cree is the Junior School Librarian at The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto and a partner in Mary Contrary Associates.