Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
★ With text that begs to be read aloud and sumptuous illustrations made by a master printmaker, this picture book reads like an instant classic.
Jacket art populated by several animals that appear in the story establishes the Asian jungle setting: A toothsome tiger lurks, while a loris, mouse and frog cower on front and back boards. The palette is rich with shades of brown, green, orange and bluish-gray, and the cover’s scene carries over on to endpapers that show Tiger stalking Frog. The chase continues across frontmatter pages until the first spread reads: “Frog fell into a deep, deep hole. Ribbit-oops! Ribbit-oops!” Dramatic visual perspective captures Frog’s fall, and the following spread shows Tiger settling in for his next move on his prey. As Tiger waits, a speech balloon heralds the titular cry, “Oh, no!” Clearly, Frog is in trouble, and on ensuing pages, several animals make rescue attempts, only to fall into the hole as well. Finally, a trumpeting, stomping elephant arrives and uses its trunk to save almost all of the trapped animals: Tiger (who had tried to get to the animals with dinner rather than rescue on his mind), falls into the hole on a prior spread, and after the elephant’s valiant rescue, they all cry “Oh, no!” when he cries for help.
Oh, yes! This is a terrific new picture book. (Picture book. 2-6) – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
★ In this first collaboration from Fleming (Clever Jack Takes the Cake) and Rohmann (Bone Dog), jungle animals tumble one by one into a deep pit: “Frog fell into a deep, deep hole. Ribbit-oops! Ribbit-oops!” The rhythm of the lines recalls the old favorite “Frog Went A-Courtin’,” and the story’s chain of accidents and bumbling characters are friendly, familiar devices, too. Mouse falls in trying to rescue Frog, Loris tumbles down from a tree, Sun Bear’s rescue attempt fails, Monkey’s swing from a vine goes wrong, but—just as Tiger looms above—they’re all rescued by a kindly elephant. It sounds like light fare, but Rohmann’s magnificent woodblock-style prints give it unexpected dignity. The jungle pit is as spacious as a cathedral, and the animals somersault into it like Olympic divers in slow motion. Humor prevails, though, with piquant sound words (“The ground bumble-rumbled and quake-shake-quaked”), speech balloons floating up out of the pit, and glimpses of the tiger’s tail and paws. It’s a book with the feel of an older classic—and it may well become one. Ages 3–7. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. (Sept.) -- Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
★ Rohmann’s relief prints bring an exuberant humor to Fleming’s rhythmic read-aloud. When an elastic-looking frog falls into a deep hole (“Ribbit-oops!”), a timid mouse, lugubrious loris, resourceful sun bear, and jaunty monkey all tumble down after him during unsuccessful rescue attempts. Fleming’s bouncing rhymes and repeated lines–set in comfortably large, rounded text–entice readers into an enjoyable delivery complete with snarled sound effects and onomatopoeic exclamations. The repetitive “Oh, no!” allows listeners to join in with the engaging text as the animals face a lurking tiger eager to snack on the helpless group. Rohmann knows to leave swathes of open space in his full-spread illustrations, focusing attention on his expressive, energetic animals in their vibrant safari palette of bright browns, tans, and greens. In a satisfying conclusion, the refrain returns as the tiger, now stuck in the hole, asks the released animals if they will help him clamber out. Oh, no! — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW