cover image The Man in the Ceiling

The Man in the Ceiling

Jules Feiffer. HarperCollins, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205035-9

Feiffer--the noted cartoonist and playwright, and the illustrator of The Phantom Tollbooth --makes his debut as a children's author with a witty story that combines a comfortably oldfangled tone with up-to-the-minute characterizations and a playful use of graphics. Jimmy daydreams through classes and bungles the plays on the school ballfield; at home, he wishes his father would pay more attention to him, and he dodges his tantrum-prone older sister and his equally troublesome if adoring younger sister. All the while he devotes himself to making comic books, inventing superheroes and casting them in adventures. Then Charley Beemer, a prodigally popular older boy, starts supplying Jimmy with ideas, commissioning him to do a series that Jimmy finds revolting and that points up Jimmy's fatal flaw--his inability to draw hands. Expressive pen-and-ink illustrations of gangly figures and playfully ingenuous ``examples'' of Jimmy's comics enhance the ripe comedy at the same time that they underscore the intensity of Jimmy's feelings. Conveyed with such verve, Feiffer's age-old message about following one's own vision seems almost brand-new. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)