FICTION

Good News, Bad News

illus. by author. 40p. CIP. Chronicle. Aug. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-0110-1. LC 2011016710.
COPY ISBN
PreS-Gr 1—-When optimistic Rabbit and unlucky Mouse go on a picnic, there is plenty of good news and bad news. Some good news-umbrella, apples, cake, cave. Some bad news-rain, worms, bees, bear. Unfortunately, all the bad seems to happen to Mouse, who eventually has a hissy fit that makes Rabbit cry. But as the sun breaks through the clouds, Mouse makes it all better with a peace offering of the picnic basket and a hug. Mack creates a solid story arc using only the phrases "good news"/"bad news," and his illustrations. Indeed, the art is the heart of this picture book, offering excellent depictions of events and facial expressions. When Mouse finally snaps, his understandable anger and frustration come through loud and clear. This title fits into the niche containing Remy Charlip's Fortunately (S & S, 1984) and Michael Foreman's Fortunately, Unfortunately (Andersen, 2011). Good for storytimes or independent reading or independent looking.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH
A slaphappy-looking rabbit holds up a picnic basket ("Good news!"); a raindrop plunks the rabbit's friend, a skeptical mouse, on the head ("Bad news"). And so it goes until the friends are back where they started, and then some. Cartoony mixed-media art lends itself to the book's comic moments, but it also imbues the animals with improbable sensitivity.
A slaphappy-looking rabbit holds up a picnic basket ("Good news!"); a raindrop plunks the rabbit's friend, a skeptical mouse, on the head ("Bad news"). The rabbit produces an umbrella ("Good news"); a gust of wind carries off the umbrella-clutching mouse ("Bad news"). And so it goes until the friends are back where they started, and then some. Mack isn't the first author to put the teeter-tottering-perspective concept to work in a picture book: see Remy Charlip's classic Fortunately (1964), Margery Cuyler's That's Good! That's Bad! (1991), and Michael Foreman's Fortunately, Unfortunately (2011). But Good News, Bad News has something the previous books don't: character development resulting in a story-crowning surprise -- for the reader and for the rabbit. Mack's cartoony mixed-media art lends itself to the book's comic moments (the beleaguered mouse could be a "Looney Tunes" dupe), but he also imbues the animals with improbable sensitivity. If he didn't, Good News, Bad News wouldn't amount to more than slapstick and schtick. Instead, for young readers who see humor as a means rather than an end, this offering is, to borrow the rabbit's two words, good news. nell beram

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