Cosmo: A Cautionary Tale

Alan Arkin, Author, Jon Richards, Illustrator , illus. by Jon Richards. Azro $19.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-929115-12-9

On the walled island of Sonamba, a white-haired man named Cosmo spends his days repairing a dike. As he patches leaks, he recites a simple mantra: "Hammer in a stick from the Billabom Bush,/ Then smear it with the tar from the Ticamo Tree." One day, "a genius" in a green suit praises Cosmo's quiet labor. Against Cosmo's wishes, the genius insists that the Mayor (a Monopoly type with an auburn mustache and shiny top hat) throw an official fete for the humble repairman. The pomp and circumstance disrupts Cosmo's routine and confuses him mightily; when the dike needs urgent attention, nobody else can identify a Billabom Bush or a Ticamo Tree. Arkin (The Lemming Condition ) focuses on the folly of the leaders who interrupt the tireless, uncomplicated efforts of the Common Man. Meanwhile the islanders are right to complain that Cosmo "kept all the magic for himself" by not teaching them how to plug "the holes when they [need] plugging." As the flood begins, the people's cooperation is too little, too late. Richards contributes sporadic color cartoons of oddball islanders, including a punk rocker and a guy in lederhosen, who seem to be the direct result of a how-to-draw-caricatures book. From the foolish rulers to the dimwitted citizenry, nobody comes off well in this allegory. Ages 8-10. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/09/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
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