cover image The Gulps

The Gulps

Rosemary Wells, , illus. by Marc Brown. . Little, Brown, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-316-01460-1

This rather pointed romp centers on a sedentary, supersize family that sets off on a trip to Dizzyland. After loading their RV with cartons of not-so-goodies (Cheezie Chips, Koko Snax), the Gulps munch their way down the road, with Sister Gulp looking forward to "Roller Coaster Mania" and Brother Gulp fantasizing about deep-fried Devil Dogs. Dawn, the youngest and only slim sibling, remarks: "I'd rather sip a carrot shake and go paddling in the duck pond." A stop at Belly-Up Burger leaves the clan too heavy for the vehicle to move. A friendly farmer invites them to stay for supper, where the portly guests are appalled to find that the fare is fresh from the garden. When next day the Gulps are too out of shape to help with the chores and get stuck in the water slide at the county fair, they (at Dawn's insistence) change their nutrition and exercise routines. The book glosses over how long the Gulps impose on the farmer family, but by summer's end, the Gulps are fit enough to ride their Dreamliner into the sunset, pulling into Salad Circus for sustenance ("Ultrasize those tomatoes!" says Papa). Wells's peppy narrative and Brown's playful gouache on wood paintings serve up a strong message that may need a spoonful of sugar to go down. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)