Little Tom Drum’s love of strawberry pie leads to a lot more than he bargained for.
Willard spins a modern fairy tale about a boy, his gluttony for strawberry pie and one careless wish. When 8-year-old Little Tom Drum wishes for three mouths so he can eat more pie, he wakes up to find two extra mouths, one in his left cheek and one in his right, which makes him look like a monster to his parents. They feel they cannot send their boy to school and hire a tutor to work with their son. In between reading books on “mathematics and giraffes and gardening,” Little Tom Drum learns about the world and creates amazing inventions with items found around his house in a workshop built by his father. On his ninth birthday, a box with a wishing machine arrives on his doorstep, and Little Tom Drum carefully puts it together and, much more carefully this time, makes his wish. While waiting for his wish to come true, he discovers his real gift: solving others’ problems with his inventive mind. Hawkes’ detailed pen-and-ink–and-pastel illustrations extend Willard’s deadpan humor with just enough creepiness. (Three mouths turn out to be remarkably unnerving.) The old-time clothing adds to the fairy-tale feel. Fans of Hawkes’ illustrations for Paul Fleischman’s Weslandia (1999) will find welcome connections here.
Inventors and pie lovers will find this one delicious. (Picture book. 4-9)