EARLY IN THE MORNING, a little bird at #1 Fish Street hops out of her nest, takes a deep breath, and begins to sing a very loud and whistley song, TWEEEEEET-TWEEEEEET-TA-TA-TA-TWEEEEEET-TWEEEEET!
So starts the story of how a chain of events results in everyone on one street waking up. The bird's song awakens Mr. Krudwig at #2 Fish Street, whose grumbling wakes up Leopold, his dog, who barks "RAPPITYRAPPITY-RAP RAPPITY-RAPPITY-RAP" . . . and wakes up Mrs. Musky, at #3 Fish Street. The antics go on and on until, finally, Lilah Hall's singing in the shower at #9 awakens the last person left who is still asleep, none other than the littlest resident at #10 Fish Street: baby Wendell Willamore.
Stevens, author of a novel for adults (Angel, Angel), endows her imaginative debut picture book with well-developed characters, plenty of noise and enough humor to keep readers wanting more. Beginning with the "ta-ta-ta tweeeeeet!" of a small bird, sounds travel from one house to the next, awakening the porcine denizens of Fish Street in a domino effect. The bird rouses Mr. Krudwig at #2 Fish Street, his dog Leopold disturbs Mrs. Musky at #3 Fish Street, and her whistling teapot flusters the tardy kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Depolo at #4 Fish Street, and so on. Hills's (Duck & Goose) witty watercolors depict action and facial expressions with equal ease, and they target both children's and adults' sensibilities. For the seven Darjeelings, who sleep together in a huge bed and whose cat wakes them by repeatedly slamming the screen door, he offers a frontal view of the glassy-eyed family, all with identical helpless stares; their nightstand contains the books Whose Bed Is It Anyway? and Train Your Cat. Especially delicious is his characterization of Mrs. Depolo as she literally "throws on her clothes, races down her stairs, and dives out the door." The story could easily do double-duty as a counting book, and with its punchy prose, unexpected plot turns and surprisingly sweet ending, it's a cinch for a read-aloud treat. Ages 4-8.