An over-the-top comic-book adventure within a bedtime story aims for laughs.
Veteran children’s-book writer Rosen (Aesop’s Fables, 2013, etc.) proves he knows what kids like and what they are like. The story begins as Dad reads a comic book to “Emily and little Elmer” at bedtime: Filth and Vacuum are on their way to Earth to take over the world. Within the comic book, savvy schoolboy Brad 40 tries to warn Miss Nice and Class Perfect. In the frame, Elmer gets excited by the story, and Emily becomes impatient with his interruptions. Back in the story, Brad 40 alerts Mayor Troubleshoot of the dreaded duo’s approach, and the Mayor mobilizes the heroes. Unfortunately, neither Steel Man, Super-Flying-Through-The-Air-Very-Fast-Man nor Incredibly-Big-Strong-Green Man can fend off Filth and Vacuum. Brad 40 calls on Extremely Boring Man to come to the rescue. With his gray-on-gray outfit and seemingly endless monologue about selecting what to wear, he has a slumberous effect on everyone, including Filth and Vacuum—and Elmer and Emily (as if, Dad!). McEwan alters the style of illustration and palette to cue the back and forth between the stories. The comic adventure is laid out in frames with urgent declarations and sound effects, with a printed-on-newsprint effect, whereas the scenes with Elmer and Emily are often on full-bleed pages and pulse with saturated colors.
Although this approach has been used before, rarely has it been executed with such hilarious results. (Picture book. 4-8)