cover image The Other Side of Town

The Other Side of Town

Jon Agee. Scholastic/di Capua, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-16204-3

After picking up a rotund mustachioed man in a head-to-toe green jumpsuit and pink briefcase, a seen-it-all New York City cabbie takes his fare to “the other side of town.” There, amid the hustle and bustle of Schmeeker Street, folks root for the Spankees and commute via the swoopy, bubblegum-hued Snooklyn Bridge. The blue-uniformed driver and his yellow taxi look out of place in the landscape of cone-shaped homes, where everything is either flamingo pink or mint green. In a Twilight Zone finale, the relieved driver arrives home, only to be served a meal of “tweet loaf, with bravy. It’s very popular on the other side of town!” Agee’s appetite for wordplay and the surreal, in full force throughout books like Mister Putney’s Quacking Dog and My Rhinoceros, tilts to the bland side in this outing. Nonsense and word similarities (“nog lights” vs. “fog lights,” “mush hour” vs. “rush hour”) trump complex double meanings, even if the Spankees and “Finkon Tunnel, [named] after Gabe Finkon” have suggestive monikers. Despite its eccentricities, this parallel universe doesn’t demand return visits. Ages 4–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Nov.)