cover image The Fuchsia Is Now

The Fuchsia Is Now

J. Otto Seibold, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-439-63559-2

Blaring pink, pumpkin orange, lime green and robin's-egg blue form wild combinations in Seibold's (Olive, My Love ) quirky new volume, whose rounded corners and heavy paper suggest an oversize board book. Fuchsia, a doll-like girl the vibrant color of her name, receives a pink hat for her fifth birthday. In the smooth close-ups, Fuchsia—with her curved limbs, long-lashed oval eyes, no nose and a half-circle smile—resembles a happy baby bottle capped by a rubber nipple. "One day Fuchsia decides to make her hat fancy," so she picks a flower from the fuchsia tree. " 'What a lovely tree, and it is named after me!' she thinks aloud." A fairy emerges, feet first, from the bell-shaped flower, and reveals some odd magic words: "The fuchsia is now." The heroine says the phrase and wishes for playmates. Soon she has three unusual friends, including a talking pig (aptly named Pigoh), frog (Fwoggy) and mouse (Meowse), with a tail like a lariat. These characters don't do much; instead, they seem like a set of plastic toy figurines, immobilized on the pages and set in motion only by readers' imaginations. Yet Seibold's deliberately basic storytelling in a childlike voice, as though made up on the spot—implies their instant friendship, and the jolting secondary-color scheme and abstract digital art lend a hallucinatory twist. Seibold conjures an air of dreamy free-association and sweetly proposes that the dangling pistils of certain flowers are, in fact, fairy feet. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)