cover image Terrific


Jon Agee, . . Hyperion/di Capua, $15.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-5184-3

Eugene Crumb, the balding and paunchy protagonist of this desert-island send-up, views every lucky break with pessimism. When he wins a cruise to Bermuda, he sighs, "Terrific... I'll probably get a really nasty sunburn." His glass continues to be half-empty after he survives a shipwreck and gets marooned ("Terrific... Now I'll get eaten by cannibals"). Fortunately, a green, orange-winged parrot shares the island, and it coaches Eugene to build a boat, ignoring Eugene's gripes about lower back pain and converting his ill-fitting brown raincoat into a sail ("Terrific... This coat cost me thirty-two dollars"). Man and bird become friends, but when they are picked up by oceangoing fishermen, the parrot falls silent. As in Milo's Hat Trick and Z Goes Home , Agee draws in a mannered charcoal-gray line, creating spacious curves and blunt angles, then brushing them in with watercolor. He tightly frames his pleasing compositions in rectangles and circles, and the lines and shapes hang in satisfying balance. With his frown, poor posture and high-water pants, Eugene resembles the Born Loser of the comic strip. But his sarcastic answer to everything may well resonate with readers who are not easily impressed, and an upbeat conclusion that trumpets the power of friendship provides an unironic "Terrific!" at last. Ages 2-up. (Sept.)