by Margaret Mahy
Illustrated by Gavin Bishop
Gecko Press, 2012.
Hans Christian Andersen award winning author Margaret Mahy's distinctive voice lends itself to the droll story of Mister Whistler, whose "twitching feet were longing to dance." When his great-aunt asks him for help, he quickly dresses (in a very snazzy style) and leaves for the train station. The song in his head keeps playing and he dances all the way there.
Once on the train platform, Mr. Whistler can't seem to locate his ticket. So, one by one, he goes through each article of clothing, searching for the ticket and discarding the clothing as he goes, until . . . he's not wearing much of anything. And his ticket has been in plain sight the whole time!
This story has innate child appeal . . . all the stages of getting dressed and undressed (and dressed again -- don't worry, his aunt "would be furious if I turned up in my underwear.") New Zealand illustrator Gavin Bishop's energetic illustrations add to the appeal. Each page is full of movement: Mr. Whistler seems to be dancing with every part of his body. The tune in Mr. Whistler's head is made visible to the reader as music notes floating across the page. The facial expressions of Mr. Whistler and his growing audience add to the humor. The color palette is a bit unusual; a muted palette with lots of shades of green and yellows and blues.
Mahy's text fairly dances at times too (rhyme & repetition): "Nothing in the right pocket./Nothing in the left" repeats for waistcoat pockets and trouser pockets. She includes some interesting and fun vocabulary: smeary, waistcoat, scatterbrained, I'm looking forward to sharing this one with kindergarten/early elementary age children.