cover image Beyond the Pond

Beyond the Pond

Joseph Kuefler. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-236427-2

Newcomer Kuefler reveals an impressive toolbox of visual storytelling skills in a story whose wide-eyed characters and broad washes of limpid hues carry echoes of Jon Klassen and Wes Anderson. His hero, Ernest D., bored of his house and his town, gazes into the pond in his backyard, trying unsuccessfully to sound its depths. It’s bottomless, he realizes, and he leaps for joy: “Oh, how exceptional!” He and his trusty dog dive in, and the camera pulls back to reveal, with a grin, dark, deep water where the shadows of sharks and squid lurk. Equipped with a flashlight, camera, and wooden sword, the two emerge to find a parallel world crammed with all the adventure a bold child could want, from a tiny mouse astride a unicorn to a terrifying, gigantic clawed paw that reaches out to grab him. When Ernest D. and his dog return, “His town looked a little less ordinary... Beyond every street and silent corner was a place unexplored.” It’s a witty, auspicious debut. Ages 4–8. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Oct.)