cover image A Little Excitement

A Little Excitement

Marc Harshman. Dutton Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-65001-0

When Willie is bored, bored, bored with snow and winter, he whines and complains and wishes for a little excitement. ``Be careful what you wish for, Willie, you might just get it,'' says his grandmother, and of course, she's right. A fire in the family's chimney wakes them up one night; they evacuate the house but fight the fire, hoping to keep damage to a minimum. Willie is astonished by his sisters' bravery, and by his father's dogged will to save the house. When reinforcements arrive, the fire is put out, and everyone gathers for coffee and cake inside. In this splendid piece of storytelling, readers will feel as if they're listening to a hearthside tale, with all the details meticulously evoked and smoothly described. That the family is safe will reassure readers; the incident is harrowing but no one's life is ever threatened. Rand's watercolors give this an old-fashioned feel; from a night sky he carves the smoking, fiery house and, in the pictures of the family, creates a sense of urgency. Even though its setting is contemporary, the values it expresses are solid and ageless. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)