In Good News, Bad News (2012), Mack experimented with minimalism, creating text from the titular phrases alone; here, he challenges himself to dialogue created from just two letters of the alphabet, doubled and continually rearranged.
A chase leads to the actions that elicit the exclamatory responses from the protagonist (a frog) and the other creatures. On the front endpaper, the amphibian floats lazily in a pond: “AAHH!” When a child and his pet come along and squeeze the web-footed victim into a jar, the dog thinks: “AH HA!” As the frog escapes and searches for refuge, each page turn reveals that the supposed “resting place” is actually a new threat; the innocent-looking log turns out to be a snapping crocodile, for instance. When the hero ultimately lunges for the safety of the jar, he shouts a triumphant “HA HA!” to the incredulous animals he has outsmarted. The closing endpapers reveal a circular resolution. Mack’s mixed-media scenes are filled with bold diagonal lines that explode with energy and caricatures that leap or stretch across the gutter. The surprise of each metamorphosis and the resourcefulness of the plucky hero will engage young viewers, while beginning readers will find the elegant simplicity of the text rewarding and clever. Speech bubbles change color according to the voice.
The ecologically sound and emotionally satisfying ending is sure to please all ages. (Picture book. 2-6)