Impeccable instructions for triumphing over grown-ups.
Originally published in 1985 with illustrations by Victoria Chess, this pleasing reissue with new illustrations and one new story still showcases spot-on techniques for getting the better of adults. The trim size is invitingly small and each story (there are eight), accessibly short. Where Chess supplied pictures of identical, hairy, but benign monsters, Ruzzier depicts a variety of recognizable anthropomorphic animals. Bertha, a duck in pants and a sweater, knots her own shoelaces to stall for time. Harriet, a kitten in a button-down shirtdress and bow tie, “was a very good whiner. She practiced and practiced, and so of course she got better and better at it.” Several characters win by obeying letter but not spirit. Chick Ruby must watch her baby brother, so she watches him take everything, item by item, out of the cupboards and dump them on the kitchen floor. Piglet Harry (star of the new story) can’t have ice cream until his carrots “are gone,” so he tucks them into a plastic bag in his pocket. Using black and blue ink and ink wash, Ruzzier complements the textual humor by giving the animals indignant eyebrows, sly expressions of superiority, seriously recognizable pouts, and genuine satisfaction at their inevitable victories.
While it’s fun to imagine this as a manual that will pass clandestinely from child to child, the truth is that most kids know these techniques already. No harm, no foul—and no carrots. (Fiction. 5-8)