A day in the youth of motor-mouth Mel Blanc, written by his daughter-in-law.
Mel Blanc—the “Man of 1,000 Voices,” including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and the ear-splitting Woody Woodpecker—wasn’t born with a wizard’s tongue; he had to work at it—at top volume. Ebbeler’s setting for this tale of young Mel is pleasingly Edwardian, with lovely background planes of graded color or design with deep, inky linework laid over. This intimacy makes Mel’s riotous creations that much more voluble. Out of bed, he is a dragon, “HHHHHhhhhh….” The sounds Mel creates are hand-lettered, drawn to swirl, evoke, and enfold. Mel finds the best acoustical venues for the figments of his imagination at school: a vaulted hallway for a train (“Woooooo…woo”), the tiled bathroom for a giant shark (“Chomp”). He’s a rascal, which doesn’t escape the principal, for instance, or the playground monitor, or the bus driver (all white, just like Mel and his family). But his vocal cords and his robots, race cars, tornadoes, and bulldogs won’t be tamed. “I’m still the fastest mouth in the world,” even when he is sentenced to school-kitchen duty or raking the family lawn. Blanc’s text is trim and keeps a jazzy, upbeat tempo, presenting the story of one very inventive kid rather than a biography of one of the 20th century’s most oft-heard voices (though a biographical note follows).
Dandy and dazzling and top-notch fun. (Picture book. 4-8)