cover image Elizabeth Imagined an Iceberg

Elizabeth Imagined an Iceberg

Chris Raschka. Scholastic, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06817-5

Several notches below his usual form here, Raschka ( Yo! Yes? ; Charlie Parker Played Be Bop ) delivers a tale that verges on the impenetrable. Out for a bike ride one day, Elizabeth encounters the decidedly weird Madam Uff Da, an overbearing six-footer who promises her a rip-roaring good time (``We'll fizz with the insects, we'll trot with the armadillos, and we'll laugh HA HA HA HA HA all day'') and then gets too close for comfort. Elizabeth escapes by visualizing what her imaginary friend (an iceberg) would do, and successfully freezes out the interloper. Raschka's breezy illustration style is as wittily offbeat as ever--Madam Uff Da's pudgy feet and fire-engine red toenails provide some genuine comic relief--but the art can't carry the book by itself. The problem is the story, or more precisely, the lack of one. Is it a treatise on how to fend off possible child molesters? An object lesson in how not to be a domineering grown-up? Or perhaps merely a romp that misfired? Only the author knows for sure. The reader, sadly, will remain mystified. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)