cover image Now I Will Never Leave the Dinner Table

Now I Will Never Leave the Dinner Table

Jane Read Martin. Joanna Cotler Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024794-2

""I will never finish my spinach. Even if that means sitting here until I am grown up with children of my own."" So declares the headstrong narrator of this high-spirited sequel to Now Everybody Really Hates Me. At the insistence of her inappropriately named older sister, Joy, aka ""the bossy baby-sitter,"" Patty Jane is stranded at the dinner table, staring at an enormous clump of spinach. In retaliation, Patty Jane launches into a wickedly sharp tirade on the faults and foibles of Joy, who, she claims, has concocted 17 recipes for spinach and keeps her napkin in her lap even while sleeping. Chast makes hay with the hyperbolic text, picturing the impeccably coiffed Joy on a deck chair, reading Perfect Girl magazine; and imagining Patty Jane at the table throughout the four seasons, in parka and muffler during winter, in straw hat and sunglasses during summer, with the same resolute scowl throughout. The glee of the authors and artist percolates throughout Patty Jane's next reverie, in which Joy is sent to live with a humorless, sourball-sucking old couple down the street. But the creators seem to run out of steam, and Patty Jane's 11th-hour reconciliation to Joy's ways is too predictable and too strained to provide much satisfaction. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)