cover image Hack and Whack

Hack and Whack

Francesca Simon, illus. by Charlotte Cotterill. Faber & Faber (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-571-32871-0

When confronted with the prospect of bedtime, two redheaded Viking siblings go on a rampage through their village, instead. “We’re Hack and Whack on the attack,” chant the siblings in what becomes the book’s chorus, repeated as they tear through a dining hall, topple an (occupied) outhouse, send barrels and logs tumbling, and recruit reinforcements. Simon (the Horrid Henry series) limits her rhyming text to bursts of shouting and noisy sound effects (“Crash! Smash! Splat! Crack! We’re Hack and Whack on the attack!”), giving newcomer Cotterill room to run wild, just like the two young Vikings. Her scratchy, crayonlike black line is ideally suited to the book’s atmosphere of mounting chaos as pigs, chickens, feathers, and food go flying in the children’s wake; loose, hand-lettered text brings additional freewheeling energy (and sometimes appears in speech balloons that feature pointy Viking horns). There is the occasional oddity—Hack and Whack’s formidable mother, in hot pursuit of her children throughout, has a head that looks far too small for her towering body—but it hardly detracts from the book’s unbridled mischief and fun. Up to age 5. (Nov.)