A young black girl tells her little sister that the breakfast before them reminds her of the worst breakfast, but her sister has no recollection of that terrible meal.
Incredulous, the girl tells her sister all about the most disgusting of breakfasts, though this still doesn't ring a bell. So she spins a larger and larger tale, each piece of food more awful than the last. Miéville and Smith's dialogue is fantastic: witty, smart, with great rhythm that doesn't sacrifice artful turns of phrase to reach for an internal rhyme. "It gummed my throat and chilled my soul. Too much cheese. Not enough hole," the girl says of some inferior Swiss cheese. Smith's artwork keeps pace with the text, which the artist sets into little rectangles to contrast with the jaggedly flamboyant paintings that get increasingly manic as the girl goes on, incorporating tentacles and pterodactyls as well as piled-high foodstuffs. Both Miéville and Smith are well-known for their work for adults, and this will certainly appeal to their fans who are parents. But this should be in the hands of all kids who aren’t easily satiated by tamer picture books and who would engage with a real work of art that they can revisit over and over. None of the artwork is too gross to behold, even for the squeamish, but it does perfectly illustrate the culinary horrors the girl is trying to convey to her sister.
A brilliant, original, infinitely rereadable book that can sit alongside Sendak and Dahl. (Picture book. 3 & up)