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Take Me With You When You Go Review by Susan K. Marlow

By Alan Venable; illustrated by Laurie Marshall
One Monkey Books
156 Diamond St.
San Francisco, CA 94114-2414
415 863 8150

Take Me With You When You Go is a magical book, a unique fairy tale of a brother and sister, trees sprouting overnight from seeds, and "talking" marionettes. This delightful 112-page tale is tucked inside a 5x7 library-edition hardcover. As a read-aloud or as a read-on-your-own book, this story is so unusual that it pulls you from one page to the next.

Brother and Sister set off down the mountain one cold winter's morning to find Eldest Uncle. Granny is ill and needs help. Thus begins a journey of discovery for the two young children, who had been left with Granny as infants. Granny dies, and Brother and Sister are shuffled from one relative's home to another's, all the while trying to learn what happened to their parents and, if possible, to find them again. Along the way, they befriend a peddler by giving him their last dried piece of apple. The children also endure hardships from unfeeling Aunts and Uncles, but they never give up their search for answers.

I confess I wasn't sure what to make of a story whose premise is a mother and father sailing away on a steamer with a pair of pigs a few days after their twin children are born. Why leave the twins behind? This question (and many more) begged to be answered, and I read the book in one sitting to discover those answers. The story moved in a lyrical, old-fashioned, fairy-tale way, and I was carried along on the twins' journey. Amazingly, the author was able to pull all the peculiar loose ends together into a satisfying ending that surprised me.

Take Me With You When You Go is for ages 6-10, but older children who like odd fairy tales will enjoy it too. The characters'names never go beyond Brother, Sister, Eldest Uncle, Youngest Uncle, and Granny, which helps set the tone of the book. The brown-tint illustrations also contribute to the old-fashioned appeal of the story. I found myself looking ahead to see the next picture.

All in all, an enjoyable read.

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2008