cover image Tangletalk


W. Nikola-Lisa. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45399-4

A Victorian setting, a typeface that resembles hand-lettering and a glimpse of a world that is more than a bit askew lend this diverting volume an Edward Gorey-esque aura--albeit an entirely insouciant one. Nikola-Lisa (Bein' with You This Way) turns logic on its head in funny and flippant rhymed couplets fueled by inherent contradictions and role reversals. "" 'Twas in the month of Boston,/ In the wonderful city of May,/ The snow was raining wildly,/ The streets were dry and gay,"" opens the sing-song text, which throughout the volume is set within ribbon-like banners into Clerk's full-spread, fine-line pictures. The first-time illustrator parlays the poem's zany goings-on into uproarious scenarios, as the dapper narrator and his dutiful cat (sporting a maid's cap) encounter the highly unlikely, both in their townhouse and on the city's streets. Clerk depicts period dress and decor with a jolly flair and adds some winsome extras: tiny mice turn up in unexpected places and faces bloom on furniture, doors, building facades, kitchen utensils. Pulling off their tangled tale without a snag, this author and illustrator make perfect sense--almost. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)