cover image PORCUPINING: A Prickly Love Story

PORCUPINING: A Prickly Love Story

Lisa Wheeler, , illus. by Janie Bynum. . Little, Brown/Tingley, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-98912-1

A porcupine in a petting zoo? The concept sounds absurd, but Wheeler (Turk and Runt) and Bynum (Altoona Baboona) succeed in creating an appealing if clueless lonely porcupine who's looking for love in all the wrong places. "All the other animals got pats and pets and plenty of hugs. But not Cushion." Tired of the singles life, Cushion grabs his banjo one night and sets off in search of a wife. He attempts to woo cute rabbits, a sow and some beavers with a "sad, sad song," oblivious to the fact that his verses are mildly insulting ("I've been so lonesome all my life,/ And though you're pink and fat,/ I'm porcupining for a wife,/ So I won't mention that"). With their comically offending couplets, Cushion's serenades and misguided attempts at courtship set up much of the book's humor, underscored by Bynum's velvety violet nighttime spreads and Day-Glo sunlit scenes, created in digital watercolor and pastel. The alliterative text, heavy on jokey word play (Cushion "got the point" and feels "a prickle run down his spine") will both amuse and engage kids intrigued by language. Yet the story's flip tone doesn't completely mask the melancholy of Cushion's search, so children will cheer when the fellow finally meets the prickly gal of his dreams. Will they live happily ever after? According to the book, that's exactly the point. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)