cover image Marveltown


Bruce McCall, . . Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-39925-2

New Yorker contributor McCall makes his picture book debut with a tongue-in-cheek vision of the future. Marveltown is a utopian city of inventors, where drivers zip through tubular car washes at 80 mph and children “sky-ski” behind prop planes. “We kids learned that faster was always better,” says the narrator. “And bigger was better, too.” The nifty illustrations, with their superprecise brush strokes and streamlined shapes, suggest a mid–20th-century architect's rendering of millennial space needles, cantilevers and suspension bridges. In the long-distance views, people appear an inch tall and the sci-fi landscape takes precedence. About half the book is devoted to marvelous or mischievous inventions (sample: “Eli's bedroom hologram was diabolical: Dad saw spick-and-span perfection, when the reality was a place you wouldn't want to live in”), which McCall paints in a meticulous, deadpan style reminiscent of William Joyce's Dinosaur Bob . Then he concocts a rickety plot where the adults' robots go haywire, B-movie style, and the children defeat the robots with their own devices. If short on story, this is long on innovation—a good choice for readers with a healthy visual imagination. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)