A malapropos laugh gives Oscar a case of the grumps.
We meet Lanthier’s young protagonist, a little black boy named Oscar, as he dismantles a number of erstwhile fun projects: the Scientific Experiment of Glorious Doom, the Indestructible Fortress of Fiendishness, the Epic Battle of Giant Robots Versus Alien Insects, and so on. Each eradication is preceded by “By the time you read this, our…” and finished with” “will be terminated,” “will be destroyed,” “will be over,” respectively. Armageddon. Kaboom! It is a mystery what has gotten Oscar into such an existential huff, and a couple of his furies are doomed in their own right: he can’t deny access to the elevator; he can’t keep other kids off playground equipment. And it is difficult to join Oscar in his dudgeon, Storms’ merry, color-drenched artwork is so upbeat. As the last few pages reveal, it turns out that the cast on Oscar’s forearm is the result of a skateboarding accident that looked to his friend Sam, who appears to be Asian, like a jolly pratfall. Hence the laughter. Hence the steam. The delay in connecting the dots is too long here, and readers may tire of it. Furthermore, was a basketball needed to cause Oscar’s spill? There is a board game on the underside of the jacket that will either give the story away or, if readers check this book out of the library, be missed altogether.
The friendship is saved with a simple apology, but Oscar’s snit leaves a trail of broken pieces. (Picture book. 4-8)