What's Up with You, Taquandra Fu?

Matt Cibula, Author, Brian Strassburg, Illustrator Zino Press Children's Books $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55933-212-5
The glow-in-the-dark cover is the best feature of this uneven picture book, in which the creators of The Contrary Kid introduces Taquandra Fu, ""the weirdest girl in the class"" and proud of it. Cibula's rhyming text (""My boots are made of raisins and my hats are all stained glass,/ And when it rains I wear an overcoat of shiny brass"") strains to be zany, and the frenetic attempts at quirkiness quickly grow tiresome. When an identity crisis finds the oddball ""on a mission to be normal,"" a strange mix of nonsensical observations (e.g. ""I ran for class vice-president and Jen said, `That's a scream!'/ I don't know what she meant, but it sure hurt my self-esteem"") and pop psychology leads her down the inevitable path to self-realization (""What good is being popular if I cannot be me?""). With their crisp black-and-white borders, Strassburg's bright, cartoon-like illustrations have a certain flair, but even their jaunty style can't take the self-conscious edge off this rambling rhyme. Ages 4-up. (Feb.) FYI: A ""secret coded message"" under the back dust jacket flap gives an address where readers can write to Taquandra Fu.
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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