The Shy Creatures

David Mack, Author . Feiwel & Friends $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-312-36794-7

Fierce mythical beasts find a helpmate in this visually striking but ultimately saccharine children's debut by a prominent comics artist. When a teacher asks her pupils about their goals, a pigtailed girl peeks from behind a stack of books. “ 'I want to be a doctor to the shy creatures,' said the shy girl. Or she would have, if she wasn't so shy.” If she would only talk, the girl would describe how she imagines bandaging Bigfoot's stubbed toe, repairing a unicorn's broken horn (“so he wouldn't be forlorn”) or treating a phoenix for heat rash. Mack, in a radical departure from his Kabuki graphic novels, salutes Dr. Seuss (by way of creep-meister Charles Burns) in his art and layouts. When the introvert balances on a tower of drinking glasses and introduces her “very shy fish,/ who lives in a very high dish,” Yertle the Turtle and The Cat in the Hat are points of reference. Yet the Seussian grace is missing. Mack's mostly polished ink line drawings, tinted with opaque colors against a white ground, occasionally look clumsy, and the girl imagines her unspoken wishes being greeted by mechanical scorn: “ 'Ha ha ha!' the class would laugh.” Mack pairs a gentle soul with misunderstood monsters, but his cloying whimsy and flatfooted rhymes suggest that he has yet to find the right voice. All ages. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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