cover image The Snoops

The Snoops

Miriam Moss. Dutton Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45972-9

Vandalism, romance, embarrassing mishaps--the Snoops don't miss a thing in their neighborhood. Dedicated voyeurism and a passion for their work have sharpened all their senses: ""They don't miss Michael Harries wiping off his mother's kiss. Or the price tag on Tilly Toddler's new shoes""; ""They even sniff out which dog did which poop where, and plot it on a graph."" Readers get the scoop through the eyes of the Snoops, until the binoculars are turned on the last page, which offers a 3-D peek into number nine Keyhole Place. There readers can spy the Snoops themselves, picking their noses, practicing karaoke and snarfing chocolates while clad only in underwear. Moss's (Jigsaw) text creates a hushed, conspiratorial tone and creepily paranoid atmosphere. Spidery, crudely rendered hand-lettered text sets off the eccentric style of French artist Durand's cartoon illustrations, often framed by a keyhole, raised blinds or a binocular shape. Her thick, rubbery-limbed people, with eyeballs way atop their heads, are surrounded by toothy birds and bulb-nosed cats and dogs, with spindly legs sticking out of burly bodies. The distinctive tone and general bad behavior will capture the imaginations of some readers, but the vision of mean-spirited and duplicitous life in a small town is sometimes more nasty than funny. Ages 4-7. (May)