cover image Jack, Skinny Bones, and the Golden Pancakes

Jack, Skinny Bones, and the Golden Pancakes

Mary-Claire Helldorfer, M. C. Helldorfer. Viking Children's Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86006-7

Rip-roaring illustrations and tangy narration distinguish this tall tale, set in a desert town called Prickly Pear. Jack, a scowling orphan, and Skinny Bones, his scrawny yellow dog, work for the conniving Granny Trick. Granny sells ""Gold Dust,"" a bogus cold remedy made of hot-mustard powder; Jack, ""an honest boy,"" specializes in cooking golden pancakes. One day, as Granny chides Jack and Skinny Bones (""The devil take you!""), the devil arrives wearing a slim black suit, thin red tie and shoes as pointy as his nose. After tasting Jack's pancakes, he bargains with Granny for the boy and dog. But Jack outwits both Granny and the devil, thanks to some ""extra-golden"" pancakes made with hot mustard. Primavera's (Woe Is Moe) dynamic spreads heighten the suspense; muddy gray shadows accented with yellow and red suggest a sort of purgatory, and drought-dry pigments, scattered across the spreads, look to be blown by a hot breeze or a hot-mustard sneeze. Some readers may need to be warned that the word ""hell"" figures here, though never as a curse; it shouldn't distract from the feisty, folksy tale and artwork. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)