cover image While You Were Napping

While You Were Napping

Jenny Offill, illus. by Barry Blitt. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-86572-5

A mother promises her remonstrating, wriggling son that he “won’t miss a thing” while he’s napping. But if his older sister is to be believed, the Best Party Ever took place right outside his window. “COMING SOON! BIG FUN! STAY AWAKE!” announces a skywriter, followed by robots, pirates, firemen, the uncovering of a dinosaur skeleton, and an apparent daylong moratorium on “Don’ts,” which meant kids could drive bulldozers, throw mud, drink ketchup, race in their underpants, and shoot off fireworks. “We all took pictures to prove to you how dangerous it was since you were the only kid napping when it happened,” writes Offill (Sparky), whose channeling of sibling snark is a thing of beauty. Blitt (George Washington’s Birthday: A Mostly True Tale) mischievously and masterfully choreographs the neverending festivities, which teeter between backyard reality and thwarted, dreamy desire. His watercolors will reward close-reading visual joke connoisseurs, as well as those who can’t wait to find out what that poor kid (he could be any of us, really) misses out on next. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Union Literary. (Sept.)