cover image Claymates


Dev Petty, illus. by Lauren Eldridge. Little, Brown, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-30311-8

Two lumps of clay—one gray, one brown, both with big, googly eyes—sit on an artist’s worktable, waiting to find out what they’re going to become. “Probably something wonderful,” says the gray lump. Human hands painstakingly sculpt them into a wolf and an owl (Owl: “That took a really long time”; Wolf: “And it was sooooo boring”), then depart, at which point the creations realize that they don’t need someone else to give shape to their imaginations. The gray clay reshapes itself into a short-snouted “pig-e-elephant” while the brown clay goes from being a giant peanut to a splendid peacock; in another sequence, they see who can transform into the flattest or smallest species. Composed of photographs arranged in comics-style panels, this book initially seems like an odd duck: a story about claymation, minus the animation? But it works: Petty’s (I Don’t Want to Be Big) punchy, dialogue-only narrative and newcomer Eldridge’s expressive sculpture give these clay buddies a surplus of personality—their self-reinventions and attempts at one-upmanship are a giddy mix of naive and naughty. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary Management. (June)