cover image The Nonsense Show

The Nonsense Show

Eric Carle. Philomel, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-17687-6

Carle delivers a carnival of pictorial and rhyming jokes, illustrated in chunky painted paper collage and dedicated to surrealist painter René Magritte and The Treachery of Images, with its famous jest, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (Carle previously explored Expressionism in The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and abstract art in Friends). The first spread pictures a rabbit magician pulling a boy out of a hat: “Welcome friends!/ Don’t be slow./ Step right up to/ The Nonsense Show!” Each spread stands alone, sometimes striking an apt silly note (a small gray mouse is seen holding a much larger cat by a leash) and sometimes falling flat when the rhymes do not scan or the jokes are middling (“Could a leopard/ Change his spot/ To a tiger-ish stripe?/ Probably not”). The funniest moments involve topsy-turvy situations, as when a lion ringmaster tames human acrobats or when a woman swings her racquet at a zooming green fruit: “What a funny-looking ball/ Thought the tennis ace/ And wound up/ With applesauce/ In her face.” Despite a few hiccups, it’s kid-pleasing silliness through and through. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)