cover image PLEASE, MALESE! A Trickster Tale from Haiti

PLEASE, MALESE! A Trickster Tale from Haiti

Amy MacDonald, , illus. by Emily Lisker. . FSG/Kroupa, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36000-9

Against an exuberantly painted Caribbean backdrop, a wily man causes so much trouble that his neighbors would rather set him free than keep him in jail. Malese tricks the village cobblers into making him a free pair of shoes and swindles the rumsellers out of enough rum to make himself a cake. The angry neighbors soon realize they've been duped, but when they lock him up, he convinces them that captivity is a privilege. Maintaining his sentence (supplying him with food, etc.) pains them more than their prisoner, and they decide to let him go. But, like a Haitian Tom Sawyer, Malese objects with a list of the chores that await him—until they agree to undertake the tasks ("If I go home, I'll just have to mend my gate," he says; "We'll mend your gate for you..." they promise. "Please, Malese!"). Sure enough, the last spread shows him asleep on his hammock in his lemon-yellow house while his neighbors tend to the repairs. Lisker's (Sol a Sol) angular folk-art figures with expressive eyes and mahogany skin sport clothes woven in lively, repetitive patterns that contrast with broad planes of turquoise, orange and pink. Tricksters may be traditionally smooth talkers, but Malese scoffs at his neighbors' high prices and shoddy work. Their acceptance of his way of life is one of the story's pleasures. MacDonald (Rachel Fister's Blister) spins a narrative with authenticity and verve. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)