John Lithgow's Farkle and Friends
    by John Cech

That's John Lithgow reading the opening from his new picture book, Micawber, the story of a squirrel who is smitten by great art and who studies the paintings in the Metropolitain Museum from his vantage point on the roof, peeking in through the skylight windows. Through a series of circumstances that I won't spoil for you by retelling here, Micawber manages to find a way to realize his secret longing, which is to become a painter, too. This delightful book is one of those rare things today -- a work for children by a well-known media personality who really has something to say to them-- about dreams, the frabjous flow of words, and the joys of art -- looking at it and trying your hand -- or tail -- at it.

Mr. Lithgow has been on a roll for the past few years, with a string of books for young people that are accompanied, as Micawber is, by CDs of him reading the text and, as he did for his earlier books, The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Marsupial Sue, setting the texts to music and song. These sung versions of his books follow in that long tradition of the parlor and musical hall performance -- clearly a form that fits Mr. Lithgow's voice and his generous-spirited manners to a tee. It's good to have this style of music back for the whole family on his new CD, "Farkle and Friends." Here, Mr. Lithgow's original lyrics are mixed with some old favorites, like Flanders" and Swan's "Hippopotamus Song" and the Shirley Temple ditty that's a whole, appealing menagerie in one bowl.

Copyright 2002 John Cech

Micawber by John Lithgow

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Monday, 16-Dec-2002 00:46:40 EST

"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."