cover image The Great Quillow

The Great Quillow

James Thurber. Harcourt Children's Books, $20 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-15-232544-2

With his typically effusive and cheerfully exaggerated illustrations, Kellogg (The Wizard Next Door) injects extra measures of zaniness into this 50-year-old David-and-Goliath tale by the legendary humorist. Because he is ``a droll and gentle fellow'' and produces remarkable toys, the villagers treat Quillow the toymaker with bemused tolerance. The town's sleepy complacency is shattered by the arrival of Hunder, an evil but none-too-bright giant. As the rest of the town scurries to accommodate Hunder's daily requirement of ``three sheep, a pie made of a thousand apples, and a chocolate as high and as wide as a spinning wheel,'' the sly Quillow lulls the giant with stories, all the while plotting the ogre's downfall. The length and pacing of the story speak to a bygone age in children's publishing, in some places straining the picture book format. However, Kellogg often overcomes the challenge by ``tiling'' blocks of text among panels of art, varying the design on each spread. And nothing can diminish the humorous juxtaposition of Hunder's hulking gullibility and wide-mouth ugliness with Quillow's quirky professional affect. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)