cover image Meanwhile--


Jules Feiffer. HarperCollins, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-205155-4

The hero of this brisk adventure takes his cue from a cartoonist who signals a scene change by using the word ""Meanwhile..."" and decides to use it himself to escape to alternate realities. At first, Raymond writes ""Meanwhile..."" on his bedroom wall to escape his yelling mother. Instantly, ""Raymond was on a pirate ship on the high seas. Unbelievable! He had Meanwhiled...!"" When the pirates capture him, Raymond scrawls the magic word on the gangplank and transfers to the Wild West. Pursued by a posse and cornered by a cougar (""Hey! I'm a good guy! This isn't even my mask!""), he makes a third leap, this time to a spacecraft under Martian attack. Like any comic-book character, he eventually must return to and resolve each crisis. Cartoonist Feiffer (The Man in the Ceiling) handles the tale with dexterity, heightening the pace until Raymond desperately shouts, ""The End!"" Anxiety builds and humor abounds in rectangular comic panels, with horizontal pictures shifting to vertical as Raymond reaches the end of the pirate ship's plank or rides deep in a canyon, mountain lion poised above him. Young fans will hope the closing picture of Raymond (disposing of his once-prized comic books) doesn't signal the end to his adrenaline-packed foray into fiction. All ages. (Sept.)