A Widow for One Year , introduces wide-eyed Tom, picture"/>

A SOUND LIKE SOMEONE TRYING NOT TO MAKE A SOUND

John Irving, Author , illus. by Tatjana Hauptmann. Doubleday $15.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-74680-9

Irving's first book for children, an atmospheric story originally included as part of his adult novel A Widow for One Year , introduces wide-eyed Tom, pictured in adorably rumpled pajamas. The boy wakes up in the night to a mysterious sound. "It was a sound like, in the closet, if one of Mommy's dresses came alive and it tried to climb off the hanger," he explains to his unseen father. Tom then pads around the house, solo, in search of the source. Irving credibly captures the imagined fears of a child jolted out of sleep: "It seemed to Tom that the sound was definitely the sound of an armless, legless monster dragging its thick, wet fur." Using broad pencil strokes and watercolor wash, Hauptmann (A Day in the Life of Petronella Pig ) creates a world of moonlit blue shadows where innocent objects—a coat in a closet, a crumpled sweater—take on eerie aspects. The book's large format and empty-feeling spreads enhance the creepiness quotient. Yet the artist tempers the mood by picturing the wide-eyed boy always accompanied by his animated teddy bear under the full moon's light. The visuals may cause a few shivers, but the story ends on a reassuring note: "A mouse crawling in the walls!... That's all it was!" says Tom. In showing young readers that the things that go bump in the night are, in reality, not so scary, Irving succeeds in helping them confront their fears. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/23/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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FORMATS
Library Binding - 978-0-385-90910-5
Book - 978-0-385-75892-5
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