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JAZPER by Richard Egielski


by Richard Egielski & illustrated by Richard Egielski

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-027817-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

With all signs of a fervent—perhaps febrile—imagination intact, Egielski (The Gingerbread Boy, 1997, etc.) once again dovetails highly finished, brightly painted illustrations with a manic text. Jazper and his father live in a rented eggshell in Bugtown, but one afternoon the old man has an accident at the tomato plant, and breaks three of his legs. Jazper goes out to find work, and is hired to house-sit by five extremely sinister white moths with death’s-head wings. Jazper, who loves to read, finds great books while he is house-sitting, and learns to transform himself into amazing things; soon, he bills himself as the Amazing Jazper and turns himself into a cheese doodle, a sour pickle, and a big blue crayon. The moths are not pleased, however, and turn themselves into knives when Jazper is a pickle. He then becomes a nut; they become nutcrackers straight out of the ballet. Echoes of the Tam Lin story will sound for folklore aficionados, and the moths come to a fittingly bad end that will remind some of the Wicked Witch of the West. All the characters in this wildly imagined farce are bugs; some are more realistic than others, inhabiting a world of discarded pasta-box apartments and tomato-can houses. When Jazper’s father wants him to just be himself for a while, so he does, in a very reassuring ending. (Picture book. 3-7)