Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck, and Edward the giraffe feels bad about his, too. “Yes, my neck is too necky. Everybody stares at it,” he sighs. He confesses to embarrassment (“I’ve tried hiding it away”) and compares his neck to others’ (“Take a gander at this zebra’s neck. Stripes always look good”). Cyrus, a turtle, has almost no neck at all, but he also feels bad: “I’ve felt like such a fool as I stretched my neck toward those greedy branches, only to be limited by my own physical shortcomings.” It’s easy for Edward to retrieve the banana Cyrus has been eyeing for days, a moment that warrants a vertical gatefold, and being able to help Cyrus gives Edward more satisfaction than all the empty reassurance he’s been offered. In this follow up to Penguin Problems, Smith (Grandpa Green) uses earth-toned greens, golds, and browns to create all kinds of brushy, stroked, veined, and lined textures, and his characters’ black eyes convey a wealth of emotions. Lighthearted palaver by John (The Bad Seed) flows effortlessly, and the pair’s courtly manners (“That means a great deal to me, Edward”) are sure to garner laughs as their shared dismay rings true. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
Correction: A previous version of this review switched the characters' names.