cover image The Secret Shortcut

The Secret Shortcut

Mark Teague. Scholastic, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-67714-1

Teague's skewed sense of humor is unleashed once again in this droll tale of two fellows having trouble getting to school on time. Wendell and Floyd's excuses sound perfectly plausible to them--alien invasions, pirates in the neighborhood, a plague of frogs--but their teacher, Ms. Gernsblatt, is having none of it and issues an ultimatum. Determined to be punctual, they leave at the crack of dawn and take a shortcut. Alas, suburban backyards quickly give way to jungle, and the boys are in for the adventure of their lives. Like William Joyce, Teague (Pigsty; The Iguana Brothers) has a knack for visualizing that privileged realm of childhood where imagination and reality collide, and for sending it up through broad exaggeration. His color-saturated acrylics, verging on the satirical, aim straight for the funnybone (Wendell and Floyd picking their way through the plague of frogs, for instance). The combination of deadpan text and unbridled art is a sure-fire recipe for a crowd-pleaser. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)