cover image Me Tarzan

Me Tarzan

Betsy Cromer Byars. HarperCollins Publishers, $14.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028706-1

""Me Tarzan, you Dwayne,"" gloats Dorothy when she out-screams her nemesis to land the starring role in the class play. Similarly glib, frequently funny lines surface throughout this light-as-cotton-candy, fast-paced novel by Newbery Medalist Byars (Summer of the Swans). A primal urge washes over the feisty girl just before she belts out her Tarzan yell: ""She felt power, a primitive power. It was such a strong sensation that it made her feel she was not only in the jungle, she was master of it."" Each time she howls, the sound attracts a menagerie of animals, ranging from neighborhood cats and dogs to the horses from a nearby riding academy to the four-legged performers in a visiting circus. Like the jungle hero Dorothy imitates, the tale is larger--and louder--than life, but Byars successfully juggles the ingredients of her narrative, including credible characters and dialogue, and humor that at times approaches slapstick. As playful as the plot, the book's design features Cigliano's images of vines and animals that emerge from the gutter and run off the pages, as well as a recurrent reproduction of Dorothy's yell (""AHHHHHH-AHH-AHH..."") that swings across the page and grows in type size with each subsequent utterance. This smooth if wild ride should attract readers of both genders--and perhaps, if read aloud, even a pet or two. Ages 7-10. (May)