Dunlap’s picture-book debut starts on the jacket flap with a welcome and assurances that this is truly a no-nonsense title.
Tallec imagines the first-person narrator as a straight-laced, bow tie–wearing, bespectacled mouse; the rodent appears in the empty white space carrying a book and potted plant. As it reads quietly on recto, back facing the gutter, the head of a Word-Eating Flying Whale (identified in the very book the mouse is reading) enters stage left. The audience is encouraged to ignore this disturbance. When the mammal returns with a Glow-in-the-Dark Kung Fu Worm, the urge to follow tiny footprints across the now-charcoal pages proves irresistible to the beleaguered protagonist—if only to quell the excitement. The turning page reveals a psychedelic dance party, and all bets are off. Toe tapping and bottom shaking take over. The mouse justifies the title’s promise at the conclusion, pointing out that the book “was not fun for YOU. / I had a great time.” Tallec’s adroit caricatures and talent for building visual drama are a welcome pairing with the monologue voiced by the scholarly rodent. Will young listeners catch the humor in the mouse’s understated observation that the music has “plenty of notes and a fine, sturdy rhythm” while the orange, brown, green, and blue creatures bop with abandon?
The fun shines through, although adult readers weary of metafiction related to books may opt out. (Picture book. 4-6)