cover image And Two Boys Booed

And Two Boys Booed

Judith Viorst, illus. by Sophie Blackall. FSG/Ferguson, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-30302-0

It was an inspiration to pair Viorst and Blackall in this funny, ingenious, and true-to-life story about stage fright. It’s the morning of the class talent show, and the narrator couldn’t be more ready; lifting the first of several small flaps, readers can see the boy beaming under his bedcovers. But with five kids ahead of him in the talent lineup, there’s a lot of time for nerves to build, and by the time the boy stands to sing, performance anxiety and some mild heckling turns to his brain to soup: What exactly was his talent, again? On five consecutive flaps, a series of improbable talent mashups swirl around the boy’s head (“I started walking my poem. I mean, I started dancing my hands”), making palpable both the boy’s discombobulation and the sense of eternity that’s a signature feature of embarrassing moments. Finally, he just opens his mouth and... sings. Cue the applause. Because as Viorst knows better than anyone, sometimes what seems awful or terrible really isn’t the end of the world. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Nancy Gallt, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. (Sept.)