A boy’s inventive celebration of plungers drives his parents to distraction in this debut picture book.
The story’s narrator, a pale boy with red hair, thinks plungers are just about the best thing ever created. His mother explains that they “squish things down and schluck them up,” but the narrator can think of so many more things they could be used for. In several wordless spreads, Punkinhead uses watercolor paints and ink drawings to depict the narrator’s adventures in plunging: as a superhero atop a slide, a deep-pool diver, a high jumper and a ceiling climber, a jouster and a juggler, a singer with a microphone, and (distressingly for those who know where plungers have usually been) a trickster with a mask. In a delightful turn on a theme, the narrator complains that grown-ups just aren’t very good at sharing. After he manages to stick the plunger to the television (after shooting it with a bow), his father takes it away for the last time. But not to worry—the boy soon finds a new tool to be fascinated with: a toilet brush. The bathroom humor is sure to appeal to young independent readers, who will find the vocabulary largely accessible (and might pick up a few new words, like “huzzah”). Punkinhead’s illustrations are vibrant and full of action. None of the characters have pupils in their solid white eyes, which takes some getting used to, but the narrator’s deviousness and the mother’s displeasure are palpable.
This ode to imagination filled with potty humor should have readers laughing—or utterly grossed out.