The celebrated picture-book artist enthusiastically joins the nonsense tradition.
Carle’s nearly 50-year career has produced myriad concept books about counting, the alphabet, and colors, as well as simple, original stories, retellings of fairy tales, and picture books that push the physical boundaries of the form. This latest proves that Carle can reinvent himself as a creator in the field, as he now revels in the absurd, eschewing any pretense of teaching a concept or even engaging with story. Instead, spread after spread uses nonsensical text and sublimely ridiculous pictures to provoke laughter and head-shaking delight. In addition to the book’s title, art immediately cues the book’s silly tone: the cover displays one of Carle’s signature collages against an empty white background; it depicts a duckling emerging from a peeled-back banana peel. The title-page art presents a deer sprouting flowers rather than antlers from its head. When the book proper begins, and language joins illustration, readers are ushered into a series of situations and scenarios that upend expectations and play with conventions. “Ouch! Who’s that in my pouch?” asks a kangaroo with a little blond child instead of a joey in her pouch. Another scene shows two snakes, joined at the middle and looking for their respective tails.
A picture book made to incite pleasure and joy. (Picture book. 3-7)