cover image Who’s the Grossest of Them All?

Who’s the Grossest of Them All?

Susan McElroy Montanari, illus. by Jake Parker. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-553-51190-1

In this lightweight, Shrek-ish twist on the “who’s the fairest?” rhyme, Goblin and Troll compete to be “the nastiest, most horrible creature in the forest.” Goblin is green-skinned and bony, with drooping ears, beady eyes, a jagged overbite, and a brown top hat. Troll is a muscular tramp with purple skin, Popeye forearms, ragged clothes, and an underbite of knobby yellow teeth. Parker (The Little Snowplow) pictures them in the classic comics style of Will Eisner, Bill Peet, or (more recently) Gene Luen Yang. Montanari (My Dog’s a Chicken) describes Goblin and Troll as frightening passersby with raspberry noises and “ghastly” armpit sounds. Although Goblin and Troll fancy themselves “completely grotesque,” they are also unfailingly polite (“Good sir,” says Goblin. “Would you be so kind as to distinguish which of us is the grossest?”), and they fail to impress a girl who wears a red hood and flagrantly picks her nose. For all their boasts, the characters —and their snotty challenger—deal in silly elementary-school antics; some readers may not be any more impressed than Little Red is. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Erzsi Deak, Hen & Ink. Illustrator’s agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Aug.)