cover image Horris Grows Down

Horris Grows Down

Shari Becker, , illus. by Valeria Petrone. . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24358-5

In this offbeat commentary on child development, Becker (Maxwell's Mountain ) presents a boy who appears older, or at least bigger, than others his age. From birth, Horris is gigantic. In Petrone's (Luther's Halloween ) smooth digital illustrations, which mimic acrylic painting in retro oranges and turquoise, Horris's head is as wide as he is tall; the odd black rings around his wide-set eyes match his tousled black hair. Horris's parents attempt "to treat him like a regular child," although he barely fits under the table during hide and seek. "He is a big guy," his father says. "Maybe he should just get a job." Four-year-old Horris puts on a black bowtie over his striped shirt and tricycles daily to a factory to sort boxes. He takes pride in his work, but hasn't yet learned his numbers: "Don't come back until you can count to 100!" yells his boss. On the way home, Horris plays with some kids, who seem not to notice his size, and follows them into school for a snack. After growing up too fast, Horris "grows down" by realizing children's real needs and responsibilities (although he boasts about his "new job" in debatable, economic terms: "The pay is nothing... But the hours are great! And you can have snacks whenever you want!"). Becker's reverse psychology is not an unqualified success, but this book does make a good case for staying in kindergarten. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)