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HEY, PRESTO! by Nadia Shireen


by Nadia Shireen & illustrated by Nadia Shireen

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86905-1
Publisher: Knopf

A magic act goes temporarily awry when a bossypants walks all over his best mate.

Presto is a sweet-looking, big-headed, blue cat. Monty’s probably a dog, with brown fur and a big snout. They “didn’t have much, but it didn’t matter. They were best friends and they were happy.” They do look happy in their alley, complete with trash can, suitcase and two cardboard boxes; however, googly eyes hint at upcoming relational inequality. Monty grandstands, waving a bone and crossing his eyes at nobody in particular, while Presto gazes straight at him adoringly. When they perform a public magic show, it’s Presto’s technical magic expertise that makes showman Monty shine. Then Monty’s ego grows until he’s so self-centered and domineering that a dejected Presto must walk away, leaving Monty to fail in his biggest show ever. (Media-savvy kids may call shenanigans on a magic show being “on television”—couldn’t it be just digital fakery?) Watching TV, Presto sees Monty’s presentation collapsing and “c[a]n’t bear it.” He returns, and they make up. Shireen’s glossy multimedia artwork has a cheery, two-dimensional feeling. Visual jokes (Monty reads Easy Peasy Magic upside down), speech bubbles (“Hey, Presto! Get me chocolate ice cream, with extra sprinkles—now!”), and the techniques behind Presto’s tricks add to interest.

Distinct from run-of-the-mill argument arcs requiring apology before reconciliation, this alternate model provokes thought.

(Picture book. 4-7)