cover image New in Town

New in Town

Kevin Cornell. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30609-0

After the bridge that joins the village of Puddletrunk to the mainland is mysteriously eaten by termites—again—green, pointy-eared Mortimer Gulch sets about organizing a repair fund for the bridge’s 273rd replacement. Wearing an impressive string of fashionable suits, Gulch squeezes the villagers out of resources with a smarmy, unsettling grin. When a stout clock repairman who is “new in town... and did not know how things worked,” offers to repair the clock tower in lieu of contributing, readers know instantly that the refusal will cause trouble. Cornell (Chapter Two Is Missing) pits the diminutive, tan-skinned newcomer against Mr. Gulch, whose cultlike sway over the villagers is seen in their subservient offerings of lemonade and hot dogs during the bridge-building. Grinch-like menace meets Bartleby-esque certitude in a cuckoo-clock European village whose candy-colored fuschias, oranges, and powder blues are lit with warm, cinematic accents and embellished with flourishes of hand-lettered type. Pure entertainment is on offer here; there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing an evildoer get his comeuppance and an unlikely hero prevail, and Cornell delivers. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]