cover image Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist

Lester Fizz, Bubble-Gum Artist

Ruth Spiro, , illus. by Thor Wickstrom. . Dutton, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47861-4

Brimming with the improbable and silly, Spiro's debut picture book attempts a roundabout introduction to art history. With Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt among his relatives and classmates, it's no surprise that Lester Fizz feels inadequate in the art department. But then Lester discovers a supreme talent for blowing bubble-gum creations. For example, in a school art contest, he blows a bubble shaped like “Mona Lisa eating a hot dog, with pickles and a side of cheese fries.” Wickstrom's (Book Fair Day ) cartoon-style illustrations re-create famous works like Van Gogh's Sunflowers (displayed in the Fizz Family Museum, aka the fridge door) and bubble-gum variants of such icons as Rodin's The Thinker . The author uses puns to enliven her writing (“Lester was so excited, he thought he might pop”) and lets her story grow increasingly absurd (Degas becomes a dancing tooth fairy; Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keeffe, cheerleaders). While themes of jealousy, competition and family in this quirky tale may help sustain an art newbie's interest, much of the parody may be lost on readers; relegated to an afterword, the facts about the featured artists may come too late. Ages 6–8. (Aug.)