Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tertius and Pliny

Frankel's first picture book introduces Tertius, a stuffed Scottish terrier, and Pliny, a toy monkey with one glass eye, who for years have sat on the shelf in ``the small cubbyhole that served as Mrs. Kay's shop.'' Though Pliny is content to stay in the dark store and swing by his tail among ``the things that people call antiques,'' Tertius longs to escape to the outside world. He gets his chance when the uncle of two siblings, Bruno and Rebecca, agree to buy them the stuffed dog. Tertius makes friends with a wooden toy in his new home, ``a daredevil red airplane named Baron Hendrik von Krug,'' who agrees to fly him to Mrs. Kay's shop to rescue Pliny from the shelf. Though Frankel infuses his well-intentioned narrative with a certain Milne-like drollery--and the adventurous flight adds considerable zip--youngsters may find the overall effect wordy and slow-moving. They'll doubtless delight, however, in Clark's ( Listen to This ; The Queen's Goat ) richly hued, waggish renditions of these winsome toys and the wide-eyed children who befriend them. Ages 4-8.

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