cover image The End (Almost)

The End (Almost)

Jim Benton. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-17731-3

A periwinkle-blue blob of a bear named Donut demands a story, while an offstage speaker encourages him to be on his way. "Once there was a bear named Donut. And he burped. The end," the unmotivated storyteller says in typewriter-style print on a drab goldenrod background. Donut excuses himself for the burp, then protests the story's brevity ("One burp? No way") in hand-lettered, emotional voice balloons. He pretends to exit, walking off the far right margin, only to peek back into the page space, wearing a green bowler hat and mustache ("Donut! I know it's you!"). Later, he tiptoes into the frame behind a "You Can't See Me" placard. Benton, the mastermind behind the It's Happy Bunny and Dear Dumb Diary series, casts the stubborn Donut in a role similar to that of Mo Willems's back-talking Pigeon. Donut mirrors his intended young audience, begging for a longer story, another story, or the same story one more time ("Yeah! Yeah! Read it again!"). With all the mugging for readers, the book gets to "the end"—the actual final page, that is—without going beyond introductions. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)