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A bear disguised as a fine, handsome man comes courting Callie Ann's widowed mother and Callie Ann must outwit the bear to prevent her mother from marrying it.
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In a variant of Wiley and the Hairy Man, San Souci (Peter and the Blue Witch Baby, p. 892, etc.) tells the story with characters speaking a slight dialect. Callie Ann thinks "good-natured hardworking Mose would make a fine stepdaddy." But Callie Ann's Mama "plans t' marry a quality gennelman." And when a stranger strolls up from the piney woods with a broad-brimmed hat, a fancy coat, and white spats, she invites him "inter the kitchen to sit a spell." It is up to Callie Ann to expose Mistah Bear for the sweet-toothed varmint he is, and she does. But, Mistah Bear is vengeful and sends his two sisters, dressed in elegant finery, to trick Callie Ann into the woods. With tough advice from Mose, and her own quick wits, Callie Ann saves the day, but not before she is trapped in a tree. Daily's picture-book debut is fairly successful; his illustrations in gouache present strong, colorful characters. The sister bears are especially fine in their elegant costumes complete with parasols, veils, and gloves. His softly rendered backgrounds are reminiscent of Jerry Pinkney's work. The overall design of the book is pleasing, but some of the pictures are strangely static and posed rather than full of action. The typeface is formal, giving an old-fashioned sense to the tale. However, the capital letters have a heavy look to them and seem to jump out at the reader. This detracts from a uniform-looking text and mars a smooth integration of pictures and text. The lively text and story will be enjoyed by a group, though the dialect used by the characters might put some storytellers off. There are notes as to sources used, and the African and African-American background is further explained. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 1-5-San Souci tells a rollicking story, playing fast and loose with the tales he has based it on. Callie Ann's widowed mother is so impressed with "quality folk" that she is fooled when Mistah Bear strolls up to her porch disguised as a finely dressed gentleman to pay his respects. The child, of course, is not fooled in the least, but her mother hushes her protestations, and Callie Ann gets into a tight spot-up a tree-before she finally tricks Mistah Bear once and for all. San Souci's narrative in dialect is enticing and rhythmic, but long. There is a natural pause in the middle, and this, it turns out, is exactly where he has patched together the two stories he cites (in his endnote) as having based this on "rather loosely." The author has borrowed the basic structures of two "Escape Up the Tree" tales, but has dispensed with many details and characters and added several of his own. The presentation of this story as a folktale "retold" is therefore frustrating, especially in light of the fine illustrations. Daily's full- and double-page gouache spreads are dramatic and funny, finely detailed and full of motion. The warm-hued compositions triangulate the focus, giving a sweeping and open look to the farm and pine-wooded setting. Independent readers and storytime audiences will appreciate this enjoyable picture book, but librarians may not appreciate its classification in nonfiction.
Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Dial, 2000. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0803717660
Book Description Dial, 2000. Condition: New. Don Daily (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0803717660