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The Countess's Calamity


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Contemporary and modern novel written with a classic feelMajor marketing campaign including trade competition to win lunch for two in ParisClear easy to read text, and wonderful illustrations make this a perfect first reader

About the Author

Sally Gardner lives in London and is the illustrator of the wonderful Polly books published by Bloomsbury. She is also the author and illustrator of our forthcoming picture book 'Mummy Don't Go Out Tonight'. Sally is also published by Orion Children's books where her fiction and picture books are bestsellers.


"This is a story of five little dolls who were left in a box, under a chair, in a park. Why they were left there, I haven't a clue," begins Gardner's (Polly's Running Away Book) wry and winsome Tales from the Box series. The rather formal yet welcoming tone of the omniscient narrator echoes in the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Mouse, who discover the box blocking their front door ("Shall I see what's inside, my little ribbly rodent?" Mr. Mouse asks his bride). Meanwhile, the quintet of dolls speculate on their whereabouts. Quilt, the sailor doll, thinks they are in an attic. Ting Tang, a smiling cloth doll in formal Chinese attire, believes they are wrapped as a birthday present, and the Countess-from "the Land of Lounge" who owns a "red-plush chair" and silver tea service, and sports a fur-collared coat-is quick to agree: "Why didn't I think of that? We are the birthday present." While the others accept the generous hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Mouse, the Countess insists on remaining in the box, which a child throws in a rubbish bin. Gardner drolly relays the haughty doll's just deserts, which include calamitous encounters with the nasty park keeper and his equally unpleasant cat. When a kind puppet from a nearby theater brings the mangled Countess to the puppet maker, she gains something she has lacked: a heart. Gardner's cheerful art, composed of black-and-white photos and halftone drawings, adds further whimsy to this diverting and clever fantasy, sure to attract a following. Ages 6-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

K-Gr 3-In this fresh and lively chapter book, Mr. and Mrs. Mouse befriend five dolls abandoned in a box in a park. The couple provides beds, food, and safety in their warm, well-furnished mouse hole, but they can't win over the haughty Countess, who is used to the Land of Lounge. While the other four toys try to fit in and are grateful, the Countess remains apart. But when she falls prey to the groundskeeper's cat, the evil Mr. Cuddles, the mice and the other dolls rescue her, and the park's puppet master repairs her and supplies her with a "beautiful little heart." Mr. Mouse's language ("Everything tickety-tails?" he asks), the dolls' comments ("You really are a cloth brain"), and the view of the park as a place where "legs" come and go but leave plenty of food make this story fun to read aloud. Gardner's mixed-media illustrations include charming drawings of characters superimposed on photographs of a furnished mouse house and other backdrops. Their details, along with the clever telling, will delight readers not quite up to Rumer Godden's doll stories or Mary Norton's The Borrowers (Harcourt, 1953) but ready for more challenge than is offered in John Peterson's "The Littles" books (Scholastic).-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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