cover image Meet My Staff

Meet My Staff

Patricia Marx. Joanna Cotler Books, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027484-9

Marx and Chast (who teamed up, with Jane Martin, for Now Everybody Really Hates Me) introduce Walter, one lazy but clever fellow with a staff in tow to mitigate unpleasant chores. Miss Peck has the task of kissing Walter's unequivocally unkissable Aunt Winnie, whose annual gift of long underwear is acknowledged by Monsieur Monsieur, the boy's Personal Letter Writer. Mozart the cat practices piano for Walter, as his mother in the next room announces, ""I'm beginning to hear a DEFINITE IMPROVEMENT!""; at suppertime the green-hued Lima Bean Man consumes his unpalatable namesake from Walter's plate as Delores De-cruster does her thing to his bread. Perhaps most useful of all is Larry Last Place, the willing loser to Walter in any game or contest. From their tasks to their titles, the characters will tickle youngsters--and most adults, who secretly covet such a brigade. Chast incorporates witty details into her rollicking cartoon art, among them the titles in Homework Helper's library (Faking French, Memorize U.S. Capitals in Your Sleep, Social Studies Can't Be Fun!), and the terror-stricken face of Mrs. Wrong, who, Walter smugly explains, ""is happy to sit in the time-out chair for me."" These collaborators pull off a fresh and playful idea with panache. Kids will eagerly return to these pages to meet Walter's eccentric team again and again with only one complaint: that this isn't a mail-order catalogue. All ages. (Sept.)