Wisniewski (Golem, 1996, etc.) satirizes the myriad rules that grown-ups impose on children, from eating vegetables and combing hair to refraining from nose-picking. On behalf of kids everywhere, the author sets out to sabotage the world's adults in their conspiracy to pass on proper hygiene, common courtesy, and good manners to children. Sleuthing through top-secret files, procured by disguising himself variously as an eggplant, a bedbug, a nail, or a giant nose, the author exposes the ""sinister, truly macabre reasons for these seemingly innocent requests."" Meat-eating saber-toothed asparagus and woolly cucumbers terrorized early humans back in the Age of Vegetables; humans eat them so as not to be eaten. Similarly, children drink milk to stop atomic cows (developed because ""in the 1950s, our government was afraid that the Russians would develop the first atomic cow and flood the market with Communist milk"") from exploding. This misguided attempt at subversive humor seems aimed at other adults, rather than the picture-book set, who won't understand the Cold War references nor laugh at the notions of Scottish shepherds herding mattresses on farms by serenading them with bonny ballads. Even the children in the age group that finds all references to body parts and bodily functions funny may be dumbfounded, though they will appreciate the painstakingly detailed cut-paper creations that depict, for example, a boy's face being sucked into a glass of milk.