Another wannabe bad guy.
“I am a bad guy,” announces an adorable little kid with Asian features as he strokes a white cat. Few young readers will pick up this James Bond reference, a slip that’s emblematic of the uneasy relationship between the book’s text and its illustrations, which can’t seem to decide whether to be literal or metaphorical. “On Monday I trapped all the superheroes in a giant cage with a bunch of hungry lions.” Strangely, the three lions are outside the cage, an upended laundry basket. Tuesday he is a pirate who ties his sister to a tree, and Wednesday he becomes a giant and “swallow[s] some astronauts whole.” In neither pirate nor astronaut image does there seem to be a relationship between an imagined world and the real one. Thursday he runs the sheriff (sister Alice again) out of town while astride what looks like a rocking horse. “On Friday, I ate Alice’s brain”—a winner of an image, with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs on poor Alice’s head and a truly evil-looking brother shoveling handfuls into his mouth. Saturday they go to the library. The “bad guy” finds books on applied badness, while Alice takes out Eat, Prey, Love—another reference to fly over the audience’s heads. Later, the “bad guy” gets hoist with his own petard in a feminist ending that does little to help the book cohere.
The humor feels accidental here, with illustrations that fail to establish a consistent visual subtext. (Picture book. 4-8)