cover image The Trouble with the Johnsons

The Trouble with the Johnsons

Mark Teague. Scholastic, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-42394-6

Elmo Freem and his cat Leon are completely unaccustomed to city life and long to return to their country home. Leon the cat even refuses to walk around their apartment, confining himself to the darkness under Elmo's bed. Elmo has at least tried to adjust but with less than satisfying results. One night Leon wakes Elmo and suggests that they return to the country, and the two head for the subway. Neither seem surprised that the subway exit deposits them in the field near their old house. The two soon learn that nothing stays the same, as they meet the new inhabitants of their old home--the Johnsons. The Johnsons are reptiles that resemble a cross between a dinosaur and a crocodile. Although they are charming and welcome Elmo and Leon into their home, a short visit convinces Elmo that it takes more than a house to make a home. This pleasantly droll story is enhanced by full-color paintings reminiscent of Edward Hopper, skillfully juxtaposed with dark, textured pencil drawings. The mixed mediums work very successfully here; Teague's unique perspective is utilized magnificently both in words and pictures to produce a noteworthy first book. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)