Maude Shrimpton’s father’s mustache is so long and twirly it harbors butterflies. Her mother wears live peacocks on her head. Maude, however, is more of a blender.
Indeed, milquetoast Maude disappears in the shadow of her flamboyant family. Her sister Constance has a voice like music: “An ‘um’ or an ‘ah’ from her could get all the birds in the trees a-twitter.” Wardo is “a laugh a minute,” Penelope is traffic-stoppingly beautiful, and Hector is “toe-tappingly mesmerizing.” Maude is so quiet even dogs can’t hear her, and, in debut illustrator Krauss’ stylish, stylized spreads, the girl literally blends into the wallpaper, crosswalk or couch. In the end, it’s visually implied that a tiger eats the entire Shrimpton family—and it’s only Maude’s natural invisibility that keeps her safe. What does this finale say? That the meek shall inherit the Earth? Is this a revenge fantasy? Maude’s last-page smile is hard to decipher, as there are few previous hints as to her character. While the text and even typefaces attempt to be lively, the use of language is flat and familiar. David Lucas’ lovely Halibut Jackson (2010) offers a less calamitous take on a boy who blends into the background.
Up with the lowly, down with the showy! The meek prevail in this energetic but lackluster picture book by the creator of the beloved British Charlie and Lola series. (Picture book. 4-8)