cover image Happy Hocky Family

Happy Hocky Family

Lane Smith, Brenda Smith. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85206-2

Step aside, Dick and Jane, or the very hilarious Happy Hocky Family might just run you over. Deftly parodying the repetitious, simplistic sentence structure of basal readers with lots! of exclamation points, Smith adds his signature prankishness to a series of banal family escapades: ``I have a balloon. Do you have a balloon? I have a balloon. My balloon is red. If you had a balloon, what color would it be? My balloon is red. POP! I have a string. Do you have a string? I have a string.'' In keeping with the campy tone, the artwork has a stylishly retrograde appeal, featuring smiley-faced stick figures block-printed in primary colors onto beige construction paper-quality pages. Unlike the frenzied intersection of word, image and design that distinguishes the artist's previous works (including The Big Pets and, with author Jon Scieszka, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales ), the comic impact of this book derives from Smith's deliberate pacing. Each punchline is delivered with a master comedian's timing. Go, Smith, go. All ages. (Sept.)