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David Macaulay connects the seemingly unconnected in this playful, witty collection of overlapping stories. Young readers must listen and watch carefully in order to track one story's clues that later pop up in another story. For example, Albert and his horse June take a shortcut over the railroad tracks on their way to sell melons at the market. Because they get there so early they are able to go home sooner than planned. Three chapters later, Albert and June's efficiency leads to another character's disappointment... and even a run-in with the law. Then there's poor Professor Tweet, who runs afowl of a hot-air balloon ride. But a few chapters later we discover that Professor Tweet's misfortune has lead to another man's most excellent fortune! Macaulay's characters are thoroughly engaging, such as the horse June, who wears curlers in her mane and likes to kick back in front of the TV. Many know Macaulay as the master of pen-and-ink detail, but here he proves himself as a versatile color artist, offering a richly blended palette and unusual visual perspectives. A funny, child-friendly shortcut into the study of cause and effect. (Ages 5 and older) --Gail Hudson

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