Editorial ReviewsPublishers Weekly
Excuses offered by erring children often start, “I didn’t mean to, but...” Previn (Find Spot!) structures her story around this time-honored formulation as a mouse’s unwise choices lead to an exciting adventure. Aberdeen’s outsize ears hang down as he reaches for the string of a red balloon: “Aberdeen didn’t mean to leave the yard. But a balloon floated by, so he followed it.” Things escalate: “Aberdeen didn’t mean to fly away. But his tail got tangled in the string.” Fortunately, after a muddy landing, an acorn snack, and a scare with a large owl, Aberdeen finds that he’s not far from home. His mother deals gently but pointedly with his transgression. “I didn’t mean to make you worry,” Aberdeen protests. “I know, sweetie,” she replies. “But you did.” It’s an oddly scolding closing note, but otherwise the story hums along, and Previn’s watercolor vignettes focus the action while emphasizing Aberdeen’s mouse-size point of view. The message about making excuses is clear, but the story offers another lesson, too: sometimes, the offer of adventure is just too good to pass up. Ages 2–5. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Aberdeen is a little mouse who doesn't mean to leave his yard but is drawn to explore the world when a balloon dreamily floats by and captures his attention. This adorable and expressive creature will delight readers as they follow his adventures from one yard to another. Aberdeen floats over dandelions and finally lands in a nearby forest where he searches for his mother and his way back home. Aberdeen's bucolic world is brought to life by Previn's bright and vivacious watercolors. The tale is easy to follow, and the excellent text-to-image ratio allows readers to decode words with ease. VERDICT This wonderfully illustrated story will delight emerging readers and make a fine addition to any picture book collection.—Maria Alegre, The Dalton School, New York City
A mouse follows a red balloon far afield."Aberdeen didn't mean to leave the yard. / BUT a balloon floated by, so he followed it." The yard is an expanse of white space with just a touch of green grass; the tempting balloon floats upward, partly leaving the page. In pursuit, Aberdeen jumps, stands on one front paw, and stretches up. "He didn't mean to dig up his neighbor's flowers. / BUT the balloon flew into their yard, so he burrowed under the fence." Catching up, he drapes himself over the balloon for a smiling snooze. But it tugs upward, snagging Aberdeen by his tail and carrying him away. This luscious, orange-tinted red balloon sticks around for only half the story, but Aberdeen's inadvertent mishaps continue. He passes crickets and falls into mud. He splashes in a puddle. Previn's watercolor artwork deftly balances airy white space with spot illustrations and full spreads highlighting greens and browns. Leaves and tree trunks are damply rich, like nature; lush red, orange, and pink flowers use the underlying watercolor paper for the petals' soft texture. An owl and a darkening sky threaten, but this little mouse is resourceful. So's his mother, who arrives to rescue and comfort—and chide a little. A full day in the vast outdoors—sumptuous, breezy, unintentional, and the tiniest bit thoughtless, at least according to mom. (Picture book. 3-6)
On August 20th, Magic Tree bookstore in Oak Park, IL will be having a launch party for ABERDEEN published by Viking Children's books. Please come at 11:00 with your kids for a reading and book signing and every child will receive a red balloon like the one Aberdeen follows in the book.
In July of 2003 we moved to France. Years earlier I had thought it would be a great idea to learn french and have our 2 young sons experience another culture and my husband said if I could figure out a way to do it, he was in. Not sure if he really thought I would make a 5 year plan to make it happen, but I did and we moved. Despite never going to Toulouse to visit, we chose it based on "research". We couldn't afford Paris and a French man that I met suggested Toulouse, saying it was a great college town that was affordable. How is that for thorough? In May I went there and found an apartment and in July we moved! (Of course I am leaving the bit about the hassle of actually getting residency visas for us, but in the end we got them and we were on our way.)
As a freelance designer and illustrator, I was able to continue working in the U.S. while we lived there since work would be very difficult to come by without a work visa in France. I began going to meetings for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators while I lived there and met several Americans who had children's books published and began my next step to writing and well as illustrating. One thing I am really good at is budgeting. I joke that I should write a book but I wholeheartedly believe that if you plan something carefully and are willing to make certain sacrifices, anything is possible.
During the Bolognafiere conference in Italy, I heard Steven Chudney speak and was very impressed. Six years later, he became my literary agent. I didn't expect the dollar to plummet against the euro. In 2005 we moved back to the States flat broke. We lasted 2 years which was one more than expected even though we would have liked to stay longer. It was worth it to live out our dream. My 2 sons attended public school there for 2 years and we all learned to speak French. Living as a foreigner is something everyone should do. It gives you a new perspective on things and you get to really appreciate all the good in people. When you don't speak the language, you learn to trust your instincts and they have been pretty reliable so far for me.
I would love to hear from you! Please email me any comments or questions.