cover image The No-Nothings and Their Baby

The No-Nothings and Their Baby

Anne Mazer. Arthur A. Levine Books, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-590-68049-3

Intellectual kin to James Marshall's The Stupids, Dav Pilkey's Dumb Bunnies and not to be confused with Michele Sobel Spirn's Know-Nothings, Bertram Reliable Butternut No-Nothing and his wife Doriana Hiccup Whatsername No-Nothing seem unlikely parent material. Yet they confidently pull up to a fast-food window and request the ""speedy delivery"" of their baby. After being redirected to the hospital next door, Bertram and Doriana meet their infant daughter and learn about bottle-feeding: "" `That looks good,' Mr. No-Nothing said. `I'll have one.' `Me too,' said his wife."" Later, they hop into the tub for a ""baby shower."" Mazer's (The Accidental Witch) deadpan dialogue sets up silly sight gags that reveal the adult No-Nothings' blithe ignorance and their baby's unforeseen smarts. Collins stocks the images with visual jokes, like a ""5TU PID"" license plate and upside-down tulips in a vase. He pictures the couple as gawky, big-eared twits with dopey grins, who never wear more than one shoe between them. The vignettes have a campy glee occasioned by the No-Nothings' mismatched clothes, and a nervous energy amplified by the slapstick child-rearing. This book confirms that adults are dangerously dim and that daughter knows best; however, the baby doesn't commiserate with the audience, so there's no sympathetic character. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)