cover image When Randolph Turned Rotten

When Randolph Turned Rotten

Charise Mericle Harper, . . Knopf, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-84071-5

Ivy the goose has been invited to a fabulous sleepover party at her cousin’s beach house, and she can’t stop talking about it. Her best friend, Randolph the beaver, starts feeling “horrible, rotten, awful, and icky” (never mind that it’s an all-girl party), and he decides to do everything possible to make Ivy’s experience miserable. Positioning himself as a “sleepover expert,” he tells Ivy to pack all kinds of impractical things (like a ridiculous flashing hat) to scare away “awful beach bears” and “huge, hungry beach snakes.” But Randolph’s plan backfires: everything he has Ivy schlep to the beach—including the logs he’s snuck in just to make her bag extra-heavy—are the very things that save the party from disaster. Harper (Just Grace ) uses a range of framings to give her story the brisk pace of a comic book, and she embellishes her wry, economical narration with word balloons that let the characters have their say. Every one of her acrylic vignettes is a goofy gem—the doll-like characters bubble with endearing, outsize personalities. An astute and empathetic look at jealousy and other emotions. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)