PARKER PICKS

Deborah A. Levine, Author, Pedro Martin, Illustrator, Deb Levine, Author , illus. by Pedro Martin. S&S $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-83456-1

Parker always has his finger up his nose. Family portraits of him as a baby, a baseball player and a Cub Scout prove that "Parker's been picking as long as he can remember." When his teacher scowls and his classmates whisper about him, he thinks "they don't know what they're missing." The unabashed protagonist, with his appealingly floppy hair and habitually crooked index finger, gets lots of attention for his gross habit. But just when readers might feel inclined to emulate him, his finger gets stuck. He smiles impishly as his condition excuses him from piano lessons, but he wishes he could bowl. After a baseball-game crowd laughs at him, he goes to bed in tears and awakens with a freed digit. Levine, editorial director for Nickelodeon TV's Web site, chooses a can't-miss subject for the junior crowd, even though she does not mention boogers directly. She leaves the disgusting stuff to Martin (Don't Know Much About the Presidents), who digitally illustrates the toxic-green mucous and then, once Parker quits, pictures the proud boy displaying his clean finger to his critics. Levine and Martin create a cautionary variation on the myth that if you make a face, it will freeze that way. They aim as much for humor as deterrence and end the story with the incorrigible hero picking something else—"his scabs." Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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