In the Tenglins’ debut book, illustrated by Stalker, offbeat tales of whimsical characters are told through goofy, rhythmic poetry and equally eccentric illustrations.
The authors, a brother and sister, explore imagined worlds through harebrained humor in stories featuring goofy, original characters, including a vegetarian lion, monster ballerinas and a breakfast-making robot. Each loosely rhyming, upbeat poem ends with an offbeat punch line: “I’ve really been way much too lenient / Allowing them to live here rent-free, / But if I kick them out, I haven’t a doubt / They’ll just move to the back of my knee.” Stalker’s brightly colored, detailed illustrations pop on otherwise clean, white pages. Their slight creepiness giddily calls to mind Ren & Stimpy, as do the at times slightly gross descriptions of “Goat Pizza” with “slimy brown banana peels” and “underpants with a mildew crust.” Sensitive parents of young readers might also beware of slightly morose tales, such as “Pool Party,” the story of a boy who accidentally jumps into a pack of cannibals’ soup. Other tales, though, such as “Band Aid,” about a girl anticipating the pain of an adhesive bandage’s removal who is pleasantly surprised by the painlessness of the actual experience, offer warmhearted lessons for young readers. Similarly, “Molly McBing, best on the swing” uses humor to tell a cautionary, well-intentioned tale about swing safety. “Elevator to the Moon” and “Watermelon Seed” are simple tales of childhood imagination, while other poems, especially “Nose Race” and “Chimp Removal,” are purely nonsensical and likely to get a laugh. Slight variations in the placement of illustrations on each page match the rhythm of the poems, while the simple, clean presentation and readable typeface allow the neat, meticulous design to balance the absurdity and goofiness of the content.
An artfully executed book with silly, absurdist humor that will electrify the imaginations of young readers.