Syndicated comic-strip artist Tatulli ("Lio" and "The Heart of the City") translates his signature style into a debut picture book about the power of imagination.
An alarm clock brriinnggs and a blond, blue-eyed, white boy named Henry wakes up and gets dressed. Everything seems unremarkable, save his cowboy hat and boots, both red, until Henry digs deep inside a cereal box for the promised prize and tumbles in. When he opens his eyes, he finds himself in a wonderland filled with Technicolor cereal mountains and milk rivers. This is just the first of Henry’s wacky daydreams. His overactive imagination engages just long enough for him to get into trouble before shouts of “Henry!…Daydreaming again!” jolt him out of his reveries. In class, Henry hang glides on alphabets to the sun and slides down the globe—right into a bookcase full of books. And during recess, a wild ride on a grasshopper lands him in the mud. In an unexpected metafictive twist, Henry and his adventures turn out to be part of an Asian girl’s daydreams. Visually, Tatulli creates an interesting assemblage of comic panels, white space, and variations in perspective to create a dynamic story. However, his illustrations may better suit black-and-white newsprint, as the combination of rough edges and dark pencil outlines with flat, relatively unmodulated application of color is jarring.
This almost-wordless picture book will appeal to young children who are experts at “reading” pictures, but their execution falls short. (Picture book. 3-6)