One summer, two brothers live by mysteriously dire rules laid down by the older of the pair.
The little one lists what he learned: “Never leave a red sock on the clothesline”; “Never eat the last olive at a party”; “Never ruin a perfect plan”—and so on. What if you break a rule? You risk facing monstrous red rabbits, crow armies, teetering robots, lumbering metal dinosaurs, large lizards, overgrown fungus and more. You’ll miss a chance to ride on that whizzing red rocket, to catch a shooting star, to visit that glowing, golden kingdom inside the gate. Vivid acrylics and oil paints depict a pretend world so surreal, so specific (and sometimes so downright disturbing) readers will spend hours poring over its subtleties and subtexts. They’ll puzzle over the brother’s urgent directives too, which vacillate between painfully obscure injunctions and specific commandments quick as a thunderclap. The attachment and tensions between the boys stream clear throughout, however, with the younger racing to catch up and worrying over trespasses he never knew to avoid. Amid the murky peril and bizarre cast of reappearing characters, the brothers’ relationship and its powerful emotional undertow remains the centrifugal force, holding each image—and the entire book—together.
Evocative, enthralling and with absolutely astounding artwork so good readers will wish that, like summer, it would last forever. (Picture book. 4 & up)