A parental date night sparks a wild flurry of imagined “What if?” disasters from the children left at home.
Hardly are Mom and Dad out the door than the two sibs have them being attacked by evil unicorns and hostile ostriches, assailed by vampires, menaced by a giant squid, and—reduced to the size of crumbs thanks to minicupcakes made with too much “shrinking powder”—washed down a drain toward a waiting horde of equally tiny sewer alligators. Fortunately the children’s sitter, being both calm and canny, has clever ways to escape each pickle on tap: asked how the kids’ parents would “get big again,” she says, “Have you ever had a jumbo-sized cookie? Well, how do you think they make them jumbo-sized?” The co-authors are professional improv/stand-up performers, and that background shows in the rapid, free-form way scenarios develop as they’re tossed back and forth. They theatrically build to a crescendo and end in a burst of relief with the parents’ return, looking none the worse for their fanciful (or, to judge from the closing scene, maybe not so fanciful) adventures. Though Bui puts the grown-ups in a classic convertible and adds other retro notes, the casual clothing, not to mention dad’s knit cap, give the cartoon illustrations a contemporary vibe. Parents, kids, and babysitter are all white.
The children look understandably anxious from first to last, but for readers at least, the not-too-scary monsters and quickly foiled threats turn the whole situation into an entertaining game. (Picture book. 6-8)