cover image Twigboy


Stephen Gammell. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202137-5

With the breathless energy and campy tone of a comic book, Gammell follows the adventures of an unlikely hero: a young twig named Twigboy. Just as he's about to be gnawed by the Snackerpinchers and the other foul-breathed pests in creepy Weedland, Twigboy is saved by a rolling rock. Moments later, Twigboy returns the favor when he saves the stone from drowning in a slimy swamp. Now fast friends, Twigboy and Rockwell (natch) visit Twigboy's grandparents (decrepit-looking knots of tree roots) for a lunch of Mud Pebble Pie. Then it's off for more excitement, romping through a thunderstorm and heading back to the forbidden Weedland to stir up a surprise for the bugs that live there. As likeable as a slender twig with a face can be, it's hard to suspend disbelief and muster empathy for Gammell's protagonist (essentially an inanimate object with the same Gumby-like expression in spread after spread). As a result, the dramatic moments have little resonance. Regardless of the far-fetched fantasy, readers will enjoy Gammell's spirited pastel and pencil artwork as well as the gleeful ending. His spindly, prickly weeds and craggy rocks set a distinct and wild outdoor scene. The zingy potpourri of color, including electrified splashes of green, red, black and yellow, lend the art a drama and imagination that outdoes the text. Ages 3-7. (May)