Diane Prather: Excitement aplenty for reader in 'Josefina Javelina: A Hairy Tale'

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Diane Prather

Diane Prather's columns appear in the Craig Daily Press and Saturday Morning Press. You can call her at 824-8809.

Some picture books seem to have been written as much for adults as for children. This week's funny book is an example.

Children will enjoy the action-packed story, but it probably will take an older reader to appreciate the double meaning of the story's "local watering hole," the implications of having a snail mail carrier, and references to names such as Hairilyn Monroe and Cary Grunt.

"Josefina Javelina: A Hairy Tale," was written by Susan Lowell and illustrated by Bruce MacPherson. It's the tale of three javelinas: brothers Jose and Juan and their sister, Josefina.

The story takes place once upon a time in the desert. The reader finds the javelinas, dressed in Western clothes, at their hacienda. The boys are sitting outside, doing what they enjoy most - eating cactus, thorns and all.

These "hoggy critters" spend their days slurping and burping, scratching each other's backs, and snoozing. They speak mostly in "snorgs."

A green lizard in a cowboy hat rests on part of the fence. He's in most of the book's illustrations.

While her brothers munch on cactus, Josefina hangs a string of red chilies on the porch. Instead of eating and snoozing, Josefina likes to sing, dance and play her concertina. Josefina dreams of becoming a famous ballerina, "her hooves on point, her fur in tights and her name in lights."

At night the three javelinas, and the rest of the desert community, head for the Oasis Snack, Bar and Cantina, the local watering hole. It is, quite literally, a watering hole as the cantina is built around a stream that's fed by a little waterfall. Guests dance, eat and drink from a series of decks and balconies built around the water.

A jackrabbit with a harmonica in his coverall pocket, a cricket with a fiddle, croaking toads, a bebopping bobcat and lots of other animals enjoy the music of the handsome Julio and the Javelina Heartstrings.

Guests tap their feet as Julio croons about making his "snout sing" and his "heart go zing." Josefina hums along, as she nibbles on a prickly pear, and thinks how a ballerina would be out of place at the Oasis Snack Bar and Cantina.

The very next morning, as Juan and Jose brush their tusks, a snail arrives with the mail. He wears a baseball cap and has a mail pouch attached to his shell. He brings a card from Cousin Angelina from Pasadena, who wishes Josefina was there.

Josefina suddenly realizes that Pasadena is next door to Hollywood - just the place for a ballerina. So she's off to see Angelina.

Angelina accompanies Josefina to the Big Break Talent Agency, where Josefina does her act for White E. Lamb. He says she could be a javelina superstar like Hairilyn Monroe, Cary Grunt, Frank Swineatra, or Elvis Bristly. He wants the girls to return tomorrow.

But, Josefina thinks there's something odd about White E. Lamb. Should he have fangs? There's a lot of excitement in store for Josefina - and the reader.

Susan Lowell also wrote "The Three Little Javelinas."

This week's book is published by Rising Moon (2005) and costs $15.95 in hardcover.

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