Take reading for a spin (literally) with the newest metafictive comedy duo, Abner and Ian.
Their oddball routine begins with Abner, a duck, and Ian, a prairie dog, standing sideways on the edges of the pages—parallel rather than perpendicular to the background. Abner suggests breaking the fourth wall to ask readers (referred to in the singular as “the kid”) to help by shaking the book and turning the pages. Ian expresses some doubt about the idea. But, when Abner notes that they’ve “seen it work before” (a hilarious moment of meta-metafiction), the pals go forward with the plan. A countdown cue instructs readers to do as they’re told. Subsequent page turns find Abner and Ian in various different post-shake orientations (upside down, in the gutter, all mixed up, etc.). Will they ever make it to where they’re supposed to be so they can start the story? At 80 pages, the joke carries on a bit too long, but the witty back and forth between the two characters makes for a quick pace. Park’s art matches a limited palette of earth tones with bright, bold backgrounds. Her cartoon characters are richly expressive, nicely varied within the context of the heavy compositional repetition required to fuel the comedy. Amusingly, Abner’s scarf demonstrates at all times that it is subject to the law of gravity, even if the characters are not. Given the characters’ broad vocabularies, it’s a shame they resort to variations of “crazy” to describe how they want the book to be shaken.
A very funny read-aloud done (mostly) right-side up. (Picture book. 3-8)