cover image A Dark, Dark Cave

A Dark, Dark Cave

Eric Hoffman, illus. by Corey R. Tabor. Viking, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01636-5

Readers will have an opportunity to assume their best spooky voices in this shivery story of brother-and-sister spelunkers. “Bats in flight/ disappear from sight/ in a dark, dark cave,” writes Hoffman (Best Best Colors), as beams from the siblings’ flashlights reveal glinting subterranean crystals and just-ominous-enough winged creatures. Just when the “dark, dark cave” refrains have built to a fever pitch and readers may begin to think that these kids have the least attentive parents ever, a scary figure looming at the cave’s mouth turns out to be their father: “That’s too loud, kids. Find a quiet game. The baby’s sleeping.” The cave, it turns out, is actually made from blankets and chairs—the bats were marionettes, while the “shining eyes” and “giant paws” that were so menacing belong to the family cat. Newcomer Tabor’s mixed-media illustrations have a lively DIY spirit that mirrors the siblings’ ingenuity. But there’s nothing amateur about the repertoire of techniques he employs to convey a sense of the deep, dark unknown and his characters’ (mostly) intrepid explorations. Ages 4–6. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (May)