cover image ALVIE EATS SOUP


Ross Collins, . . Scholastic/Levine, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-27260-5

Alvie won't eat a soupçon of anything but soup. As a baby, his first word is "Mulligatawny!" (a recipe is included). In the Polaroids that chart his formative years, he shuns solid food and snuggles his cheek against a can of chicken stock. Alvie's anxious mother and father, whose worst fears appear in giant thought bubbles, imagine their son paper-thin or hefted by his little sister, Delilah, an omnivore who grows chubbier by the page. "To make matters worse, Alvie's granny was a world-famous chef," and an unimpressed Alvie notices only "the ladle" in the shop window that displays her cookbook. Before a visit from Granny, Alvie's embarrassed parents hide all evidence of his single-minded passion. Although this story starts out like Russell Hoban's Bread and Jam for Frances, Collins (The No-Nothings and Their Baby) takes a detour at the conclusion and lets Alvie stay finicky—and readers discover he has a kindred spirit in Granny. In pencil, watercolor and acrylic compositions as meticulous as Alvie, Collins lavishes attention on the angular characters' dramatic gestures, pointy tufts of hair and fashionably rumpled clothes. His illustrations hearken back to early 20th-century comics, but the precious style does not make up for a lack of substance. The story rests on a one-joke premise, but with lots of fanfare nevertheless. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)