cover image Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride

Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride

Vivian Walsh. Viking Children's Books, $16.99 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84775-4

Mr. Lunch, a bird-chaser of some repute, is invited to demonstrate his skills on television--a thrilling prospect largely because it will involve his first plane ride. Being a dog, however, he must ride with the baggage, along with Ambrose, the bird he is to chase on the show. Looking around at the sea of suitcases, boxes and bags, Mr. Lunch decides ``things would be better if he investigated.'' He opens his fellow passengers' luggage, examines the contents and hastily repacks--creating some embarrassing but ultimately fruitful mix-ups that come to light on the show. Offbeat and utterly original, this debut by a husband-and-wife team has the frank silliness to appeal immediately to children and a campy sophistication that will tickle adults as well. The illustrations--computer-generated images that are flat in perspective but full of energy and surprisingly expressive--seem at once hip and modern and, in their diagrammatic shapes and muted khakis, rusts and charcoals, reminiscent of 1950s cartoons. Figures, objects, vehicles, labels and signs galore fill the fanciful, kinetical compositions, which are counterpointed by the absolutely straight-faced, straightforward text. The combination leads to an oxymoronic controlled zaniness, and it makes Mr. Lunch's journey a trip worth taking indeed. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)