Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meet the Dullards

Booklist (November 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 5))
Grades K-2. Parents used to hearing “This is so boring!” might want to show this worst-case scenario to their kids. Mr. and Mrs. Dullard are trying to raise their three children—Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud—in their own image: dull as rocks. Horrified upon finding the kids reading books (instead of “nice blank paper”), the family uproots from its lawless neighborhood. (They’re still recovering from when the leaves changed color.) Their new house, though, has problems: a neighbor who uses exclamation points in front of the kids, and a room—brace yourself—painted bright yellow. So the family hurries off to buy some beige-gray paint and, you guessed it, watch it dry. The real story, however, plays in the edges: the three kids taking every opportunity to scurry away from their stultifying parents and cavort, climb, and cackle. Pennypacker packs the pages full of winning jokes (“Five vanilla cones, please. Hold the cones. And extract the vanilla”), while Salmieri’s colored-pencil art creates a perfectly monotonous world of straight angles and nondescript coloring. Rarely has boring been this boisterous. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Both Pennypacker (the Clementine books) and Salmieri (Dragons Love Tacos, 2012) are best-sellers. Dull as it is, this ought to sell well, too.

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