No Fair! No Fair! And Other Jolly Poems of Childhood

Calvin Trillin, illus. by Roz Chast. Orchard, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-82578-8
Rein in your expectations: this is a book of wonderful illustrations and lackluster rhymes. Many start with clever ideas about coping with an unfair world: “How Many Stuffed Animals?” introduces a kid who solves her fear of the dark by sleeping under a mound of plush toys. But author and New Yorker staff writer Trillin’s verse never crackles with the possibilities of language’s playfulness, and the storytelling, particularly in the longer poems that dominate the collection, is equally pedestrian: “The animal pals that are piled in my bed/ Keep nighttime from being much scarier./ That’s why I need more. I’ve got plenty of room./ For me, it’s the more pals the merrier.” It’s only in one set of four short verses, grouped under the title “Evening Complaints” (there are also lesser “Morning Complaints” and “School Complaints”), that an authentically juvenile voice emerges. The anxiety and sense of being put-upon that threads through these verses are mother’s milk for Chast (Around the Clock), though, and her drawings are consistently funny. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2016
Release date: 09/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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