Pitschi by Hans Fischer

Originally published in Switzerland in 1947 and then first published in the US in 1953, this book is a classic that I had never read before.  Old Lisette has two cats, five kittens, and a dog who are near her playing as she knits outside.  That is all of the kittens are playing except for one who is sitting still and dreaming.  Pitschi is much more interested in exploring and dreaming than playing with her siblings.  So off she heads into the farmyard.  There she finds a rooster who struts proudly.  Pitschi decides that she wants to be a rooster and gives her best strut and crow.  But when their crowing draws another rooster in and they fight, Pitschi decides she doesn’t want to be a rooster anymore.  One after another Pitschi discovers an animal, thinks it would be grand to be that, and then learns about the drawbacks.  Goats are milked.  Ducks swim.  And rabbits live in danger from foxes and owls.  Luckily the old dog and Old Lisette are there to rescue a lost kitten after dark and remind her how grand it is to be a kitten after all.

There is a wonderful pluckiness about this little kitten.  She is often unafraid, bold and always curious.  Her willingness to reinvent herself is very endearing and makes for a book that is a great foil for books where the character is seeking to find those who are like themselves.  Here Pitschi relishes the differences and the new character traits she finds. 

Fischer’s art is free form and simple.  Often colored with washes of only a few colors, his use of line is done with great skill and ease.  The simple curlicues of a tree branches, the squiggles that form a rabbit’s tail, and the swirls of a basket.  The illustrations come to life because of this simplicity.

Highly recommended.  If you missed this treasure from the 40s and 50s, you are in luck because North South is re-releasing it this year.  Share it with cat lovers or in story times about cats or farms.  It is a real Swiss treat.

Reviewed from copy received from North South.

Little Green Goose

The Little Green Goose by Adele Sansone, illlustrated by Anke Faust

In 1999, North South books published this story with illustrations by Alan Marks.  Now it has been re-released with new art.  This is the story of a goose who desperately wants to be a father.  When he approaches the hens and asks for eggs to hatch, they refuse to give him any.  So he sadly heads to the woods where Daisy the dog points him to an egg she uncovered in her digging.  Mr. Goose takes the egg home and sits on it.  Eventually, it cracks open and out pops a green chick with scales!  Mr. Goose was proud of his son and when he finally showed him to the others in the barnyard, they were shocked.  The little green goose was told by some of the hens that he is not a proper goose because he is green and doesn’t have feathers or a beak!  Distraught, little green goose heads out to find his real father.  But no animal is quite like him.  It isn’t until he is exhausted and hungry that he realizes that he knows just who will love him no matter whether he is a proper goose or not.

This book is about families and how they are about love alone, not about whether members look similar at all.  I particularly appreciated that it is MR. Goose who wants a baby.  That’s a male role that we don’t see much in children’s picture books.  Sansone’s text is light and a pleasure to read aloud.  Her dialogue is interestingly written.  Her setting is well developed.  She has created a wonderful world in which a baby dinosaur can not only exist but thrive. 

Faust’s illustrations are done in digital collage.  She has a knack for finding interesting visual textures that really create a feast for the eye.  The feathers on Mr. Goose are particularly successful as are the grasses, stones, wood and leaves.  She has captured the freshness and patterns of nature and used them with great effect here.

Highly recommended, this story will appeal to many families and children.  Keep it on hand for any goose or farm story times, where it will add another dimension and a bit of diversity.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from NorthSouth Publishers.