cover image The Magical Fantastical Fridge

The Magical Fantastical Fridge

Harlan Coben, illus. by Leah Tinari. Dial, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-525-42803-9

A boy named Walden, bored stiff at the prospect of another weekly dinner with his extended family, is magically dragged into one of his own drawings displayed on the family refrigerator, kicking off an adventure through two-dimensional, magnet-held domestic paraphernalia. He swims through a pair of Coney Island aquarium tickets, gets zapped as he passes through the family electric bill, and escapes back to reality with help from a pair of scissors in a hair salon coupon. Adult author Coben’s first picture book starts like an update on Through the Looking Glass, but quickly sinks into narrative and visual incoherence, further marred by literal narration and wordplay that sounds like a grownup trying hard to be funny. (“This is shocking!” says Walden while in the electric bill, “But ‘current’-ly I love this.”) Debut illustrator Tinari has an intensely expressionistic, caricatured style that seems far better suited to one-off comic portraits than sustained action. By the time Walden transforms into a talking fried chicken leg, readers may be ready to set this one aside. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Feb.) [/em]