Sassy Gracie

by James Sage, Pierre Pratt,
ISBN: 0333684273

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Children`s Books
by Erinn Banting

There's nothing like a pair of big, clunky, red shoes to make one feel a little feisty. Maybe a little too feisty, in the case of Gracie, the little girl who sports a pair in James Sage's Sassy Gracie.

Gracie's shoes are a little too clunky for Cook's taste: "Stop that dancing, Sassy Gracie! It's getting on my nerves." When Cook takes a day off though, and the Master (who is expecting "a very important guest" for dinner) asks Gracie to prepare two chickens for their dinner, Gracie loses all restraint.

While Gracie is waiting for the chickens to roast, she dances everywhere-from the kitchen, to the best sitting room, in and out of the Master's library, and back again. As Gracie discovers, "dancing can take a lot out of you". When she gets back to the kitchen, she decides to check on the chickens-by taking a few tastes, which turn into a whole chicken. After she returns from her second round of dancing and takes another little taste test; "the second chicken was no more than a spiky carcass of well picked bones, just like the first."

Sassy Gracie might just be a little too sassy: after all, she does lie to the dinner guest to avoid being caught ("Crikey Mister, are you in trouble!...Because you're so late, my Master is planning to give you two big bumps on the head with his walking stick!"); then she must lie to the Master about the dinner guest's failure to attend ("That's a fine guest you invited! He's run off with my two roast chickens!").

Part of what lightens this book (beyond the jovial dialogue) is the stunning visual accompaniment by award-winning illustrator Pierre Pratt. What's a truly clunky pair of red shoes if they're not jumping off the page at you? Sassy Gracie's are enough to make anyone want to strap them on and dance to the point of dropping.

Pratt's landscapes are as vibrant as his renditions of the colourful characters: Sassy Gracie with her curly black pig-tails; the bell-shaped Master with his green house coat and cane that goes "bumpety-bump"; the enormous cook; and, of course, the timid dinner guest with his green top hat and burgundy suit.

The book is fast-paced and entertaining, and after a day of dancing and eating and fun, it's no wonder that Gracie has to take a nap: "And did she snore? YOU BET SHE DID."


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