cover image Grace for Gus

Grace for Gus

Harry Bliss. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-264410-7

Grace has dark hair and bangs, and her glasses reflect the light—she looks quite a bit like Marcie from Peanuts, which is far from the only comics reference that Bliss (Bailey) sneaks into this mostly wordless love letter to New York City, classic cartoons, and entrepreneurial ingenuity. Grace’s Manhattan classroom has a hamster named Gus, and her teacher reminds the class to contribute to Gus’s “buddy fund.” Grace hurries home, eats dinner with her two fathers, kisses them goodnight, and promptly sneaks out into the nighttime city. She’s a busker, and a multitalented one at that, playing violin, drawing caricatures, and deploying a gymnastic “showtime” subway routine for an audience that includes Woody Allen, Donald Trump, and a grownup version of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy. The fun comes partly from watching as Grace’s resourcefulness powers her to her goal and partly from Bliss’s panels, which are crammed with New York City Easter eggs and references to writers, comedians, and cartoon characters. Despite potential dangers, Grace’s plan goes off without a hitch, and she remains cool and poised. An easy candidate for cherished bedtime favorite. Ages 4–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Feb.)