cover image Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List

Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List

Michael Townsend. Blue Apple (Random, dist.), $12.99 (88p) ISBN 978-1-60905-365-9

Like an unholy union between the Dick and Jane series and R. Crumb–style psychedelia, Townsend’s contribution to the Jump Into Chapters line introduces an animate yellow ball with an enormous grin, rubbery limbs, and manic energy that never abates. To-do lists are Mr. Ball’s passion, and he attempts to knock off a few items over the book’s four sections, with limited success. The house Mr. Ball builds for his pet cat, Ms. Kitty Cow, winds up a misshaped pile of lumber, and he only paints half of his own house before falling off a ladder, dousing himself with Pepto-Bismol pink paint, and opting to spend the day chasing butterflies instead. Townsend’s (Cute and Cuter) hero is as much punching bag as protagonist—later adventures have him punted into the sky by an unhappy mama rabbit and sprayed at close range by a skunk. The adrenalized emotions, rampant slapstick, and comics-style format make this a good pick for kids who generally would rather watch SpongeBob reruns than pick up a book. Ages 5–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Feb.)■