Steig is a master—if not the
master—of turning on the endearment juices without getting sloppy about it. That's because his artwork has just the right touch of the jughead to give the drollery an eccentric edge. Take away that marriage of word and art and you have, for instance, this book, a real cuddlefest, but not the kind of dance that steals your breath away. Steig's strange world enwraps readers from the first sentence: "Arriving home one day, Toby's father is surprised to see his son lying facedown by the door." What gives? Toby's pretending to be a doormat. Each two-page spread thereafter finds Toby striking some curious pose and asking his parents to guess what he is. A turnip? No, a bag of dirty laundry. A fish trapped in a net? Nope, a plate of spaghetti. A knot? Wrong again, a pair of scissors. Toby and his parents are weasels with great dewy eyes, drawn with a soft dreaminess, so that their being winsome in the extreme is a foregone conclusion. They're also not a touch vapid. While this follow-up to Toby, Where Are You?
(1997) has doubtless appeal, this one isn't as clever as the first and the longevity of that appeal is not so indubitable. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >