cover image Puppy Fat

Puppy Fat

Morris Gleitzman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $5 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200052-3

Convinced that his separated parents have little chance of attracting new mates due to their advanced ages (36 and 37) and excess body fat, Keith, 13, the budding artist previously met in Misery Guts and Worry Warts, goes on an all-out campaign to make them over, or at least get them dates. His first effort-advertising them in realistic nude portraits at a school art exhibit-is spectacularly unsuccessful. And a mural with their idealized, swimsuit-clad figures on the side of a building in their South London neighborhood only causes the local travel agent to sell more beach holidays. But no matter: with his fearless best friend, Tracy, and her Aunty Bev, a Spandex-clad beautician, coming to visit from Australia, Keith figures he'll have his folks made over and dating in no time. However, things don't turn out as Keith had planned: Mum finds a boyfriend on her own; neither Dad's new look nor his romance with Bev suits him; and Bev is hounding Tracy mercilessly about getting fat. Everything comes out all right in the end, but not until Keith realizes that looks aren't everything. If the message Gleitzman conveys isn't wholly new, seldom has it been so gleefully and palatably presented. A punchy narrative, droll characters and original plot make this a real page-turner. Ages 8-12. (May)