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Johnson, Gillian K.
Toronto, Annick Press, 1992. 56pp, cloth, $12.95, ISBN 1-55037-211-4. Also available in French as Sahara-Sara. Distributed by Firefly Books. CIP

Kindergarten to Grade 3/Ages 5 to 8

Reviewed by Norma Charles

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January

This is a most unusual book. To begin with, the book is read by holding it sideways, like a secretary's note pad. The script and pen-and-ink illustrations are also unusual, reminiscent perhaps of Victorian script and illustration. With such unusual tools, the book, one hopes, would have a very good story-line.

This is the story of two sisters, O-Stefanefanie and Saranohair, who dig a hole at the beach one day. When they fall into the hole, the older sister, O-Stefanefanie, becomes attached to Saranohair's head, upside down. In this manner they have a short adventure where they are placed in a Chapeau shop display window to advertise a new sort of hat. They escape by digging another hole and falling into that. In the end, they are back at the beach, where O-Stafanefanie remains attached to the top of Saranohair's head.

After reading this book, I must admit, I was befuddled. What exactly was the point of the whole story? After reading it to several children including a very perceptive six-year-old book lover, who commented, "I just don't get it," I remain befuddled.

Sorry, but it's just not much of a story, and that is disappointing because the illustrations are interesting and humorous. But unlike Alice in Alice through the Looking Glass, the characters in this book are not described sufficiently for the reader to care about or to empathize with them.

Not recommended.

Norma Charles is a teacher-librarian at the Henderson Annex School in Vancouver, British Columbia
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