cover image The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors

Julie Falatko, illus. by Ruth Chan. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-136800083-3

Humans head to the outdoors to get away from it all—why shouldn’t forest animals recharge their batteries by doing the exact opposite? That’s the perfectly reasonable explanation for a bunch of critters surreptitiously turning a house into vacation central while its human owners are away. This is the real “simple life”: a roof over their heads, a big-screen TV, a kitchen (the beavers cook lasagna and bring lots of ice cream), and great phone reception. “The most relaxing week of the year” says a blissed-out mother bear. But every vacation eventually runs out of steam (“I miss peeing behind a tree,” a skunk says; “Who keeps licking the butter?” a beaver asks) and the group decamps, leaving behind a house that’s definitely worse for the wear and promising to rendezvous at the same time next year. Cartooning by Chan (Georgie’s Best Bad Day) has a naive goofiness that nails the void-the-warranty spirit of time off, while Falatko (the Snappsy the Alligator series) effectively voices both deadpan narrator (“As the days went by, things got less than perfect”) and leisure-obsessed animals: “Good-bye, peace and quiet!” “Hello, dance party!” Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Danielle Smith, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. [em](Apr.) [/em]