Wallace, author of The Cat’s Pajamas (2010), picks up where he left off, as the cover features a tiger sitting on a bed in splendid, red-and-white striped pajamas. On one foot is the old brown shoe that begins this often surreal but delightful fantastical romp.
Faithfully adhering to the rhythm of the “House that Jack Built,” the text introduces interesting things involved in actions or placed in settings that are unexpected. The shoe leads to introductions of a “bee with the smoochable lips,” “the fish with the spooky mask” and “the dog with a musical flair” among others. Although the text is entertaining in itself, the illustrations beg to be pored over. On most spreads, the left page displays framed text and a circular portrait of the animal or object newly added to the story. On the right is a lush, detailed painting executed in watercolor, gouache and pencil. Readers’ eyes will initially focus on what is referred to in the text but then wander into the dreamlike landscape, which is full of surprises that stretch the imagination. Is that a snow-capped mountain or ice cream? What are all of the green creatures in the flora doing? Why do some pages have puzzle pieces? The only constants are the shoe and “the button from the cat’s pajamas / That rolled away into a dream… // And became a wheel on Uncle Wally’s old brown shoe.”
Save for small groups or one-on-one sharing so readers can linger in this visual wonderland. (Picture book. 4-7)