cover image Fenwick's Suit

Fenwick's Suit

David Small. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32298-4

Clad in bow tie and hitched-up trousers, nerdy Fenwick muses that perhaps his dress is responsible for his lack of friends. He spies a solution in a tailor's window: a flashy yellow-and-red windowpane-check suit (""It's you!"" the tailor insists), which propels him to strut, strike humorous poses and leap around. The next day, while Fenwick recuperates at home from his taxing day, the suit takes off on its own and becomes the life of the office, exuding so much personality and confidence that Fenwick's co-workers don't notice that no one is inside. Feeling more inadequate than ever, Fenwick tries to stuff the suit in a box: ""The suit threaded its way through the crowd... Fenwick collared the suit and hemmed it in."" But the suit escapes, swells to 20 times its size and, wearing Fenwick like a handkerchief in its pocket, sails over the city until the desperate fellow ""grabbed an errant thread and bailed out."" Small's (The Library) animated, comical illustrations, which have a cartoonish, '30s quality, add visual wit, but they aren't enough to compensate for an abrupt, almost arbitrary ending: like Fenwick's suit, the story unravels just when it begins to sail. All ages. (Sept.)