cover image The Longest Hair in the World

The Longest Hair in the World

Lois Duncan. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32113-6

Duncan's (I Know What You Did Last Summer) usually glossy prose could use a little conditioning in this limp excursion. Emily makes a birthday wish for long hair, hoping to land the lead role of princess in the school play. As her hair grows to alarming lengths, birds nest in it, she has to go to the car wash for a shampoo and it gets tangled in the jungle gym. But does Emily learn a lesson, when she gets another wish at her next birthday? Hint: the next school play stars a porcupine. McIntosh (Witch Way to the Beach) interprets the story in cartoon illustrations that border on caricature--Emily's smugness, her parents' concern and her schoolmates' initial envy are as exaggerated as Emily's long locks. Both in the style of the illustrations and the various developments (e.g., the carwash cum beauty parlor), the enterprise resembles last year's Hurricane Henrietta, also about an overtressed heroine. This long-hair tale feels long in the tooth as well. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)