cover image The Land of Hungry Armadillos

The Land of Hungry Armadillos

Lawrence David / Author, Frederique Bertrand / Illustrator Dou

Fire and brimstone (and diabolical armadillos) threaten two quarrelsome siblings in this heavy-handed yet creatively visualized tale. Gus refuses to share his crayons with his sister, Wendy. He underlines his feelings by drawing a picture of Wendy crying in ""a land that had red mountains, a lake of bubbling goo, and a line of hungry armadillos with wide-open mouths."" That evening, Gus gets a visit from Zub, a rust-orange giant who offers an enormous box of crayons and paper in exchange for Wendy. Gus gladly agrees but is shocked when Zub takes Wendy to his subterranean realm and forces her to bake cupcakes for an endless queue of ravenous armadillos. ""I want my sister home.... I never meant for her really to be gone,"" cries Gus, who must perform an unselfish act to save Wendy from her weird fate. David (The Good Little Girl; Beetle Boy) avoids direct mention of Satan and sin, but Zub has much in common with Beelzebub, and the pat ending has a bromide aftertaste. French artist Bertrand selects a fiery palette of sulphurous red and yellow ochre and plays on the coloring-book premise by scribbling and painting the characters on lined scratch paper. Her jittery, surreal compositions, which mimic a child's inventive drawing style, enliven this long-winded game of beat the devil. Ages 6-up. (May)