cover image Tony Baloney

Tony Baloney

Pam Muñoz Ryan, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham, Scholastic Press, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-23135-0

Ryan's (The Dreamer) exuberant story takes a fresh look at sibling dynamics from the perspective of a beleaguered macaroni penguin caught between bossy Big Sister Baloney and twin Bothersome Babies Baloney. "When it is absolutely necessary, or most of the time," Tony Baloney plays with Big Sister, who always makes him assume the minor role of kitty ("When do I get to be Boss of the World?" he asks). When he becomes exasperated with his siblings, Tony acts out, after which he and his stuffed toy, Dandelion (acting as confidante and adviser), take a time-out. Their eventual decision to apologize involves an entertaining imagined dialogue; Tony concedes that they have to apologize nicely, and Dandelion admits, "I am not feeling nicely in my heart." Dominated by bold primary colors, Fotheringham's (The Extraordinary Mark Twain [According to Susy]) hyperbolic digital illustrations counterbalance the slyly understated narrative, portraying Tony's (and Dandelion's) antics with humor. Yet there's brilliant subtlety, too: his depiction of Big Sister—always en pointe in her red ballet flats and eyeing Tony with no shortage of scorn—says a mouthful about what Tony is dealing with. Ages 3–5. (Jan.)