cover image Nobody Likes Me

Nobody Likes Me

Fay Weldon. Bodley Head, $19.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-370-32462-3

Novelist Weldon's (The Life and Loves of a She-Devil) first foray into children's books may have lost something in its trans-Atlantic crossing. In a bad temper, Rex tears up a party invitation, splashes his sister's coat with muddy water from a puddle and tells his mother he's a big brown bear (""And I'll eat every scrap of your best red dress!""). Then he dreams about attending a series of three charming parties. In the first two sequences, Rex is ""unmasked"" as himself--and is chased away. In the third, he turns into a big brown bear and feels so ashamed that he removes himself. Weldon relies heavily on synaesthesia (""Rex fell into a sleep that was brown and red and purple at the edges"") to create a childlike tone, but the effect is studied, just as the narrative logic of the dream sequences feels strained. American readers, too, may puzzle at the Briticisms (""They ate jelly out of silver bowls""). In his energetic cartoons, Munoz tries valiantly to supply visual transitions, emphasizing the images shared by Rex's waking world and his dream, but the effort as a whole feels labored and pale; it is no match for such native agents of exorcism as Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Ages 4-7. (Dec.)