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Ballyhoo Bay    by Judy Sierra & Derek Anderson order for
Ballyhoo Bay
by Judy Sierra
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Ballyhoo Bay is reminiscent of my favorite Judy Sierra book, Wild About Books, a tribute to Dr. Seuss in which a librarian introduces a love of reading to a group of zoo animals. In fact, this book has similar tone and meter, and even begins with a similar theme: the main character, Mira Bella, is holding art classes for the animals of Ballyhoo Bay:

'Pelicans painted, crabs dabbled in clay,
And seals made mobiles out of papier-mache.
Otters drew silly self-portraits with pencils,
And sea squirts dyed T-shirts by spitting on stencils.

Soon, though, their beach paradise is threatened by developers, whose plans to build penthouse apartments on the bay (for nine zillion dollars each) is met with resistance by Mira Bella and her animal friends. Soon, Mira Bella mobilizes every living creature in town to fight city hall and preserve the natural beauty of the bay. As in all good children's books, the heroine prevails, and the beach returns to its status as an artist's colony.

The book carries a message of social responsibility, though perhaps in too simplified a manner. Nonetheless, the book is appealing on several levels, particularly by virtue of the Dr. Seussian cadence and the wildly colorful and comical illustrations.

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