cover image Spinky Sulks

Spinky Sulks

William Steig. Farrar Straus Giroux, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-38321-3

Spinky joins a distinguished list of Steig heroes: plucky Pearl, stalwart Abel, brave Irene, playful Solomon. But Spinky doesn't behave very heroically; in fact, he's a colossal brat. He's sullen and unforgiving, testing the patience of his very loving family at every turn. Storming out of his house, feeling angry and unappreciated, Spinky heads into the yard for a good sulk, and nothing can entice him out of itnot apologies from brother Hitch (with his ``slimy voice''), daisies from sister Willamina, visits from buddies Smudge and Iggie, a box of candy, a delicious tray of lunch, a circus parade, a prancing clown bearing ice cream. Finally, Spinky figures out how to stop sulking in a way that allows him to save face. ``After that, Spinky's family was much more careful about his feelings. Too bad they couldn't keep it up forever.'' Spinky is a strongly drawn character, endearing despite his obstinacy. And the message of the book will be clear to young readers, as capsulized by Spinky's father: ``Even though Spinky was wrong to sulk like a baby, every one still loved him anyway.'' It's a story with terrific child appeal, and Steig's characteristic dry humor makes it a pleasure for adults as well. Michael di Capua Books. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)