cover image Trouble Gum

Trouble Gum

Matthew Cordell, . . Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-312-38774-7

Working with a stripped-down palette of black, white, red and bubblegum pink, Cordell's (Mighty Casey ) first solo effort evokes irrepressible boyhood with laughs throughout. Stir-crazy on a rainy day, older brother Ruben and his little brother, Julius, two piglets at loose ends, are given some gum by their Grammy, but not without a reminder from Mom about the bubblegum rules (“Don't swallow your gum. Don't play with your gum. And don't blow big, sticky bubbles with your gum”). Unsurprisingly, they can't resist the temptation to do all these things and more (“Fortunately, this wasn't the first piece of gum Ruben had gotten stuck in Mom's knitting,” reads the text as spot art shows Ruben frantically tearing at a gum-smeared blanket. “He knew just what to do”). Dozens of Steig-like pen and ink drawings show the antics of the partners in crime and Ruben's attempts to educate Julius in the ways of acting like a “big pig.” The picture of a loving, unpretentious family sustains the hilarity throughout, while creative onomatopoeia (“SMAK SMAK SMIK SMAK”) provides yet more giggles. Ages 2–6. (Aug.)