cover image The Good Little Girl

The Good Little Girl

Lawrence David. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32614-8

Despite her admirable politeness, this story's good girl gets few rewards. Miranda patiently waits for her parents to get home from work, then watches them dozing on the couch. The next morning, she finds eggs on her plate instead of her special weekend treat: "" `That's okay,' she said cheerfully, but... someone inside her felt that eggs on Saturday Family Waffle Breakfast was very, very, very not okay."" Suddenly, as if possessed by the Incredible Hulk, Miranda metamorphoses into a witchy green girl named Lucretia. Lucretia is as rude as Miranda is courteous. She demands her waffles and hounds her parents into outrageous acts (""Mom, you have to stick pencils up your nose and sing `Polly Wolly Doodle' ""). Miranda struggles to regain control, and the conclusion brings a compromise between the split personality and the parents. Oubrerie's (Please Don't Squeeze Your Boa, Noah!) densely layered paintings reveal Miranda's dual nature. In the cover image, mild-mannered Miranda has an outsize shadow, and elsewhere she's imprisoned behind the whites of Lucretia's eyes. David, who chose a challenging theme for this first picture book, effectively depicts how disappointment upsets even the best-natured child. Adults may spurn this book because Miranda's folks acquiesce to Lucretia's every shriek; narrowly read, the story proves that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But readers who distinguish between righteous anger and spoiled-rottenness will understand Miranda's angst and learn a few things about diplomacy. Ages 6-up. (Oct.)