In this engaging bit of frippery, Shulevitz takes a walk on the nonsensical side, concocting a tall tale about the inhabitants of Pickleberry. The Emperor and his twin brother, the janitor, share the kingdom with 26 and a half citizens (""The half was an invisible fellow with a big mustache whom everyone knew and who spoke in half words"") and a talking bird named Lou (""a genius of a bird""). Fed exotic delicacies such as ""caramel crisp with tamatar, badam, shalgam, zafran, mari, curry, and adrak,"" Lou is treated better than the Emperor's brother, who is eventually made ""part-time ambassador for extraordinary missions"" and sent shopping in a faraway land. He runs into Lou's Aunt Millie, who helps Lou escape, triggering a series of events that winds up with a tale-within-a-tale as Lou regales his aunt with the story of how the janitor got the best of his greedy brother. The silliness referenced in the title reigns supreme here; with a nod to Lear, the author squeezes pleasure out of invented words and tongue twisters, often with a visual twist (such as images of the half-citizen throwing down his half cup's invisible saucer and causing an earthquake). Shulevitz's sunny watercolors range from beautifully detailed vignettes to puckish cartoons (including a picture of the ""National Dessert--Pickle Pudding"" on the endpapers), ratcheting up the enjoyment factor. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000 Release date: 09/01/2000 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.