cover image Phoebe's Fabulous Father

Phoebe's Fabulous Father

Louisa Campbell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200996-0

As in this pair's Gargoyles' Christmas, Taylor's spunky illustrations gamely but vainly try to salvage a mediocre text. One problem is the book's dual focus. First, it strives a little too obviously to teach a lesson that is at best questionable--Phoebe must learn to accept her musician father's workaholism. Second, the story turns on a running gag: a series of hamhanded hints climaxes in visual confirmation that Phoebe's father is, literally, a dinosaur. In the slight plot, Phoebe and her mother run errands before their family concert performance and discuss the absent father. Over the course of the day, Phoebe realizes how special he is. Taylor's chalk pastels and acrylics are rakishly cartoonish, full of cleverly cloaked visual clues and zany, fun-house perspectives. Attentive observers may enjoy the revelation on the final spread: a little dino tail pokes out from under Phoebe's skirt, too. All the kooky details, unfortunately, don't add up to a solid story. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)