A noisy neighbor can make reading a bit of a challenge—but there’s a clever solution.
Little Emily’s fondness for bouncing a basketball, wailing away on drums and other sudden high-volume activities repeatedly sends Roger, his equally startled basset hound and his book flying into the air. The irritated gent’s increasingly vigorous pounding on the apartment wall quiets her—but only for a while. Following several frustrating rounds, he stalks off to get and present her with a package that contains (you guessed it) another book, and peace is restored. Using the gutter as a stand-in for the separating wall, Van Biesen creates minimalist rooms and figures with a mix of unfilled outlines and small washes of color or pattern against white backdrops. Occasional offbeat visual details, such as tiny Emily’s adult features and huge butterfly hair ornament, add flair to the very simple plotline. The text is a combination of outsized sound effects and smaller patterned commentary: “SHHHH! Quiet. / Roger is reading. / Roger is reading a book. // BOING BOING / Emily is playing. / Emily is playing a game.” But a hushed spread that fades to black suddenly gives way with a page turn to a blast of frenzied barking from the poor dog, who, thanks to the continuing distractions, hasn’t been walked all day. Both Roger and Emily do the deed, and a scene of sweet relief against a lamppost further cements the sense of resolution.
A slight but tongue-in-cheek import with a mischievous twist. (Picture book. 5-7)