THE MANY ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY MUTTON

James Proimos, Author, James Proimos, Illustrator . Harcourt $16 (48p) ISBN 978-0-15-202379-9 ISBN 0-15-202413-1

A quintet of brief tales, scrawled comic-book panels and jokey narration introduce Johnny Mutton, a young sheep raised as a regular boy. Johnny is discovered on the doorstep by Momma Mutton, an effusively affectionate Olive Oyl lookalike: "Momma did such a good job bringing up Johnny that although folks noticed he was different, no one noticed he was a sheep." Still, the woolly white fellow possesses an odd sense of humor that makes him the center of attention. On the first day of school, when all the kids bring red apples for the teacher, Johnny brings "Extra Poofy" marshmallows; at this, the teacher takes out his dentures and claims to prefer soft food ("But Johnny didn't hear that because he was in the closet, hiding from those creepy fake teeth"). A Halloween tale follows a similar, silly vein: Johnny's classmates dress as witches and pirates, but the sheep dresses as a "runny nose" and befriends a girl who comes as a box of tissues. Proimos (Joe's Wish) balances third-person commentary and snappy voice-bubble dialogue. His active ink lines and undiluted colors lend wild energy to the illustrations. Johnny emerges as a model "child"—both a loving son and an extroverted classroom cutup. Ages 5-9. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/30/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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