Upon orders from the king of Great Kerfuffle, white siblings Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face embark on a taleworthy quest to rid their home of mischievous badgers.
Take a dollop of Jon Scieszka’s classic fairy-tale sendups, add a swirl of M.T. Anderson’s humorously perilous quests, garnish with a Snicket-ian narrator’s crumbled fourth wall, and you have the hilarious first adventure of Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face on the island of Great Kerfuffle. With their parents conveniently out of the way until the end of the story, the sibling duo awakens to find $20 has been pilfered from Stinkbomb’s piggy bank, and the only obvious suspects (once they rule out Ketchup-Face, of course) are a band of badgers. Taking their complaint to the king (also white), they are, in turn, sent to rid the kingdom of the badgers, but the pair’s quarry is nothing if not wicked (“if they weren’t bad, they’d just be gers”). Even with a cat army, a sentient shopping cart, and every story trope on their side, Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face may be outmatched. With metafictive flare, a truly expert deployment of absurdity, and an unrelenting song about jam, Dougherty’s narrative is as self-reflexive and entrancing as a Penrose staircase, populated with delightfully inscrutable characters and brought to rollicking life with Ricks’ spot illustrations.
A study in parodic mayhem. (Fiction. 7-11)