cover image Zagazoo


Quentin Blake. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30178-4

Blake's (Clown) meditation on the stages of childhood introduces George and Bella, a ""happy couple"" who receive a brightly wrapped package in the mail. Opening it, the seemingly clueless duo discovers ""a little pink creature, as pretty as could be""; an accompanying label identifies the baby as ""Zagazoo."" Blake's characteristically whimsical watercolors show the two (in a rather reckless pastime) spending ""happy days throwing it from one to the other."" Then one day the parents awaken to find that Zagazoo has morphed into a screeching baby vulture. The infant's subsequent and alternating identities include a mud-tracking warthog, a fire-breathing dragon and a wailing bat. In adolescence, the fellow turns into a hairy creature, then a young man with ""perfect manners"" who falls in love with a young woman. When Zagazoo and his beloved go to tell his parents that they wish to marry, the story abruptly switches perspective: the young couple finds that George and Bella have changed into a pair of pelicans. ""Isn't life amazing!"" concludes Blake's chimerical commentary on the phases of life. Youngsters may find this more puzzling than amazing; it's adult Blake devotees who will most appreciate this quirky tale. All ages. (Sept.)