cover image Wordplay


Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Jared Chapman. Scholastic/Levine, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-93428-2

Lehrhaupt (I Will Not Eat You) and Chapman (Fruits in Suits) personify parts of speech, turning them into playground pals. Noun is a boy with shape-shifting capabilities, as befits words that can be persons, places, or things. Verb is a pigtailed girl with endless energy (“She climbs. She slides. She twirls”). And Interjection, Adjective, and Adverb serve as a grammatical Greek chorus: “ ‘Wow!’ says Interjection. ‘An impressive display,’ says Adjective. ‘Very graceful,’ says Adverb”). The story is slight, but sufficient: Verb becomes envious of the attention being showered on Noun, but when Noun is threatened by an angry bee, the two realize they need each other—after all, without Verb, Noun literally can’t move. Chapman keeps the look simple: the background is an uncluttered, grassy green, and each character is rendered as a single-color line drawing (with corresponding color-coded dialogue) to help readers keep track of who’s who. The sunny mood readily conveys the idea that grammar is easy-peasy, which is just what some readers need to hear. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (July)