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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Giant Jumperee, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Dial Books, Penguin. 2017. $23.99 ages 3 and up

"So Bear swaggered up to the
burrow. But just as he put his
big furry paw inside, he heard
a loud voice.

and I'll sting you
like a bee!"

"Help! Help!" bellowed Bear."

There's a problem, and it is apparent from the first page of this wonderful new story by a team of beloved artists. Julia Donaldson introduces a voice that is full of mystery and bravado, and heard from inside Rabbit's burrow. That voice terrifies Rabbit and has him hollering for help. With each successive helpmate comes an offer of assistance and a backing-off as soon as the voice resounds from where it is safely hidden from view. It's a big voice and no animal friend seems willing to pursue its expulsion.

Mama Frog has no such concerns. She hears their cautionary tone, and pays no heed.  Upon her arrival, the GIANT JUMPEREE repeats its warning. Mama shows no fear. In fact, she provides an ultimatum:

"Come on out,
GIANT JUMPEREE!" she said.
"You're the one we want to see,
             so I'm counting
                          up to three!"

The results are surprising to everyone but Mama Frog. Her exasperated stance is clearly shown in Ms. Oxenbury's expressive illustration, only one of many that will have all readers enthralled. Julia Donaldson proves once again that she is a master at creating suspense meant to intrigue and fascinate little ones, while making them take a bit of a step back. The rhythmic patterns in language make it accessible for early readers, matching text to animal as they worry themselves sick over the perceived threat. Helen Oxenbury is a perfect collaborator for this joyful story, enhancing its pages with watercolor images that provide a lovely setting, great variety in expression, and ultimately, a
chance for the animals to laugh at themselves.

The joy I feel in not sharing this with Sicily and Chelsea while they were here in June comes from the anticipation for sharing it with them when they make a return visit. Can't wait!

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