cover image Bravo, Minski

Bravo, Minski

Arthur Yorinks. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30951-0

Traces of the inspired silliness found in Louis the Fish , It Happened in Pinsk and other works by the Caldecott-winning collaborators are also found in this story that describes the extraordinary career of an inventor named Minski. But that silliness (such as a man becoming a fish or literally losing his head) was always part of a tightly controlled plot that followed each story's inherent logic. Not so in Bravo Minski . Famous for his successful inventions (telephone, toaster, rocket ship, among others), Minski tries to mix a formula that will give him a beautiful singing voice. Within three spreads (allowing for little suspense), he's singing like Caruso. In addition to a marked confusion in the way the story unfolds, there is also a philosophical ambiguity to the premise that informs the story; Minski circumvents the real issue of what art is. He asks: ``What is music? What is singing ? I'll find the answers. I must, I will!'' But he never does. By getting a voice through scientific methods, he negates the distinction between science and art. The book strongly suggests that art can be realized through formula, and denies the importance of passion or talent. Perhaps these philosophical concerns will not bother young readers; what they're more likely to notice is that the book is not very funny. Ages 3-up. (Oct . )