Having failed in the hospitality business due to a rude and surly bear (Hotel Bruce, 2016), mice Rupert, Nibbs, and Thistle decide to go into publishing.
Rupert decides to star in his very own wordless book: the emphasis is on “wordless”…as in no words whatsoever. Nibbs and Thistle agree—loudly and vociferously. Speech bubbles proliferate at quantum speed despite Rupert’s creative direction: “Quiet, you!” Instead of collaborating on a “visually stimulating” book, the head mouse finds himself besieged by a thicket of words (854, more or less). Cameo appearances by unibrowed Bruce and one of his goslings from the Mother Bruce books lend a gratifying sense of continuity to this wacky sylvan universe. Higgins’ visual puns and artistic high jinks power the escalating absurdity of Rupert’s blithely obtuse sidekicks. The hilariously smart dialogue reinforces the sight gags scattered throughout. The helpful observation that “we need to have strong illustrations” is followed by an image of the two literal-minded mice flexing muscle-bound body parts; Captain Quiet, Thistle and Nibbs’ proposed “Vocabulary Vigilante,” is a champion word-fighter and proponent of onomatopoeia (“POW / BLAM / KABOOM”)—and not at all what the creative director had envisioned.
From Captain Quiet’s clever belt buckle (“SH”) to Rupert’s gaping tonsil shots, Higgins has once again drawn up a winner. (Picture book. 4-9)