The Hole in the Middle

Paul Budnitz, illus. by Aya Kakeda. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4231-3761-0
Kidrobot founder Budnitz and graphic artist Kakeda debut with a surreal tale about "a boy named Morgan, who was born with a hole in his middle. The hole was so big, you could see straight through him, from front to back." Morgan suffers from "a strange, empty feeling," and the circular, cookie cutter–shaped gap is large enough that his friend Yumi bats a badminton birdie through it. Budnitz quietly implies the hole is related to an innate self-centeredness (early on, Morgan eats an entire cake Yumi bakes for him, and he sings "all the solos" when they rock out together). In flattened cartoons dancing with whimsical dots, stripes, toadstools, and enormous flowers, Kakeda pictures a glum Morgan whose frown droops even more when he learns Yumi is ill. His mood lifts, though, when he bakes Yumi a get-well cake and visits her. As he devotes himself to cheering a friend, the hole shrinks until "it looked exactly like a belly button." The combination of Kakeda's optimistic pictures and Morgan's odd attribute make this resemble a Charles Burns comic for a junior crowd. Ages 3–6. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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