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Voices in the Park

by Anthony Browne

Published by DK, 1998
32 pages
ISBN: 0-7894-2522-X

Ages 7 - 10

The voices mentioned in the title belong to four people (ehr... gorillas and chimps) who cross paths in a city park. A well-heeled mother with her timid son and a down-and-out dad with his outgoing daughter seem to have little in common, other than a need to walk their dogs. Although the parents sit on the same park bench, they do not exchange a word; the children, however, play together on the seesaw, slide and climbing bars. What makes this distinctive is that the same event is recounted from four distinctive points of view and each brief chapter tells a completely different story about the same experience. For the mother, the trip to the park is fraught with worries, not the least of which is the scruffy-looking man who shares her bench. The dad thinks only of his own problems as he reads the want ads, looking for work. Although the children play together, they, too, give a different account. From the girls' perspective, her playmate is a wimp, although he does loosen up a bit as they play. He seems incredibly sad. The boy, however, immensely enjoys his free moments playing with the high-spirited girl, and hopes he'll see her again soon. In each chapter, the landscapes of Browne's surrealistic paintings subtly reflect the internal emotions of the character who's speaking; for example, the timid boy sees the shape of his mother's overbearing hat everywhere--on lamposts, in clouds and trees, and on a statue which casually holds a set of handcuffs. CCBC categories: Picture Books for Older Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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