cover image M Is for Mischief: An A to Z of Naughty Children

M Is for Mischief: An A to Z of Naughty Children

Linda Ashman, . . Dutton, $16.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47564-4

Carpenter, who made such a splash with her photograph-enhanced drawings in 17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore , flexes her rascally aesthetic even more in this abecedary of bad behavior, and once again she produces a perfect visual expression of the collision of a testy temperament with polite society. When Offensive Oscar refuses to wash (“Yesterday's oatmeal still clings to his skin”), the pen-and-ink anti-hero is proffered what looks like a real bar of soap plus scrub brush from a real pair of hands; on the opposite page, a photo-collaged pair of splayed legs belonging to “Grandmother” adds comic verisimilitude to the claim that “One sniff of his odor and others pass out.” Ashman's (Babies on the Go ) poetic portraits are packed with lots of tasty assonance and alliteration (“Coco came to camp:/ Cracked a compass, smacked a lamp,/ Clogged a drain, cut a tarp./ Clobbered Curtis with a carp”), and although they tend to adopt a tone that's more tut-tut than arch, their mock-serious mood serves as a fine foil to the visual ruckus. Ages 6–up. (July)