The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Maurice Sendak; HarperCollins ($17.95) Ages 4 to 8.
This 1960 Caldecott Honor Book containing some of Maurice Sendak’s most dazzling artwork is back in print for the first time in more than a decade. This is a cause for celebration. Udry also wrote the marvelous picture book, “Mary Ann’s Mud Day,” and her lyrical ode to the magic of a summer night in childhood is a match for Sendak’s lovely images, some in color, some black and white.
As night falls, down in the sandbox the pail and the shovel are left by the castle door. The owl wakes up, “the cat steps out and walks around the edge of the garden,” and Sendak’s double-page illustration reflects a landscape empty of activity, save the cat’s yellow eyes staring up from the page.
As their parents are framed in the window safely indoors, four children, alias Moon Jumpers, explore the glories of the night, climbing trees, making up songs, turning somersaults, telling ghost stories and jumping, as “the balloon of a moon grows and grows.”
Sendak offers children bathed in moonglow, dancing with abandon, or with droll, expressive outlines in simple black and white, a comical frog and giant moth.
– Jean Westmoore
Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner; Dutton, 400 pages ($26.95)
Lisa Gardner, the master of the psychological thriller, has delivered another tour de force with “Touch & Go,” which exposes the raw nerves of a family imploding, and an investigator trying to escape her past.
Justin Denbe and his wife, Libby, return from a night out to discover intruders in their home. They witness their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, being attacked with a stun gun before they are attacked as well.
The family is taken to a state-of-the-art penitentiary that Denbe’s firm built but was never put into use. As they wait to learn their captors’ motive, they struggle to be civil to one other. (Justin had an affair, Libby is addicted to painkillers, and Ashlyn has a secret boyfriend.)
Private investigator Tessa Leoni still lives with the aftermath of the horrible events that changed her life forever, as told in Gardner’s earlier novel, “Love You More.”
She is hired by Denbe Construction to investigate the family’s kidnapping. Both Leoni and the authorities are surprised there is no ransom demand.
Why were the Denbes abducted? How do their kidnappers know so much about them? And is it possible for them to get past their grievances and escape from captivity?
Gardner does an amazing job of creating realistic situations and characters with emotional resonance. The constant surprises will shock even the most jaded thriller reader.
A character says early in the novel, “Pain has a flavor. The question is, what does it taste like to you?”
“Touch & Go” is the opposite of pain; it’s a total pleasure.
– Jeff Ayers, Associated Press