cover image The House at the End 
of Ladybug Lane

The House at the End of Ladybug Lane

Elise Primavera, illus. by Valeria Docampo. Random/Corey, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-85584-9

Angelina’s parents are neat freaks—their last name is Neatolini, and they think nothing of vacuuming their lawn or polishing the flowers—but the neatness gene seems to have skipped a generation. As much as they try to keep their daughter immaculate, “five minutes later, Angelina was always wrinkly and rumpled and covered in crumbs.” Needless to say, a pet is out of the question, until Angelina joins forces with a hard-of-hearing fairy godmother–like ladybug, who conjures up a pest (instead of a pet) with amazing baking skills that beguile the senior Neatolinis. Primavera’s (the Louise the Big Cheese series) storytelling is often woolly and wandering, and there’s the sense of a narrative being stretched too far, complete with several jokes about misheard wishes (the ladybug hears “spider” when Angelina says “viper”). But the book is worth sticking with, if only to enjoy Docampo’s (Tip-Tap Pop) extravagantly imagined, almost hallucinogenically hued gouache vignettes, which bring to mind Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory minus the edge. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: MB Artists. (Mar.)