By: John Lithgow
Illustrated by Jack E. Davis
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 2008
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: March 2009
Celebrity authored books are all the rage; a famous name helps sell copies and publishers are eager to promote such books. Unfortunately, being a celebrity does not make that person a good writer and many of these books suffer from poor plots, substandard writing or storylines that lack originality. Fortunately, Marsupial Sue Present The Runaway Pancake rises above the clutter of lackluster celebrity books for children.
In Marsupial Sue, Sue and her friends are putting on a play with Sue in the lead role of Auntie May. When Auntie May decides to cook herself a pancake, the narrator of the play cautions that “You must never, ever, EVER cook a pancake in a hot oven. And my story will tell you why.”
Auntie May puts her pancake in the oven and then does housework while her lunch cooks. But she soon hears a noise from inside the oven. When she opens the door, out pops her pancake, complete with eyes, nose, mouth and feet. As her lunch runs away, Auntie May pleads for it to return. The pancake teases,
No, no, no.
I’m too fast, you’re too slow.
Pan, pan, patty-cake pan,
I can get away from you, I can!”
With Auntie May following, the pancake soon comes upon a dog who is also eager to eat it, but the pancake refuses to be somebody’s lunch and repeats his jingle, this time adding a line about the dog. Soon, the pancake has a whole host of animals, along with Auntie May, chasing him and the jingle he repeats on each page has grown much longer, as he adds a line for each animal. It looks as though the pancake might escape until he comes upon the sly, old red fox. (It is odd that the illustrator choose to draw the red fox as purple.)
Marsupial Sue is not a new theme, it’s a rehashing of the runaway gingerbread man, however, Lithgow does a good job of recounting the adventure. Children will enjoy the ever growing jingle and have fun anticipating what will happen as the pancake meets each new animal. I’m not sure why Lithgow choose to present the story as if Marsupial Sue and her friends were putting on a play. The play aspect gets lost in the story and serves no purpose.
Quill says: Better than most celebrity authored stories, it’s not original, but it is fun.