cover image The End (Almost)

The End (Almost)

Jim Benton. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-17731-3

A periwinkle-blue blob of a bear named Donut demands a story, while an offstage speaker encourages him to be on his way. "Once there was a bear named Donut. And he burped. The end," the unmotivated storyteller says in typewriter-style print on a drab goldenrod background. Donut excuses himself for the burp, then protests the story's brevity ("One burp? No way") in hand-lettered, emotional voice balloons. He pretends to exit, walking off the far right margin, only to peek back into the page space, wearing a green bowler hat and mustache ("Donut! I know it's you!"). Later, he tiptoes into the frame behind a "You Can't See Me" placard. Benton, the mastermind behind the It's Happy Bunny and Dear Dumb Diary series, casts the stubborn Donut in a role similar to that of Mo Willems's back-talking Pigeon. Donut mirrors his intended young audience, begging for a longer story, another story, or the same story one more time ("Yeah! Yeah! Read it again!"). With all the mugging for readers, the book gets to "the end"%E2%80%94the actual final page, that is%E2%80%94without going beyond introductions. Ages 3%E2%80%935. (Mar.)