cover image The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon

Mini Grey, . . Knopf, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83691-6

Hey Diddle Diddle" serves as prequel to this delightful swashbuckler, which chronicles the ups and downs of a nursery-rhyme romance. When someone (furry paws imply it's the famous fiddling cat) plays a red disk labeled "Hey Diddle Diddle" on a child-size record player, the Dish and the Spoon sprint into the moonlit night. "How could we resist?" asks the Spoon, who tells their story. In a three-part spread, they leap from an English cliff and sail (like Dahl's Giant Peach) to the Statue of Liberty, with the Dish acting as a raft and the Spoon as a mast with a kerchief sail. In 1920s New York, their acrobatics are a vaudeville sensation. Soon they're driving a cream-yellow roadster and throwing money around with

Gatsbyesque abandon. But they squander their cash and end up on Skid Row, among cracked teacups and the sinister Carving Knife Gang. Grey (Traction Man Is Here! ) moves briskly from one comic cliffhanger to the next, including a close call on the railroad tracks and a Bonnie-and-Clyde bank heist with tragic consequences for the ceramic moll. Years go by before a tearful reunion in a lowly junk shop (filled with objects from the opening spread), but unlike Randolph Caldecott's shattering version, in which the broken plate does not recover, Grey foresees a future for the antique heroes. She squeezes multiple panels into every spread, alternating between the main plot and clever asides; tiny details chart the couple's showbiz career ("New in Town: The Knife and the Fork") and crime spree ("wanted" posters identify the Dish's "glazed expression" and the silver utensil's "metallic colour"). Sprung from a familiar stanza, this inventive tale of true love will sustain many rereadings by readers of all ages. Ages 6-up. (May)