cover image The Legend of Slappy Hooper

The Legend of Slappy Hooper

Aaron Shepard. Atheneum Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19535-3

Shepard imposes his own style and adds several episodes to an American tall tale, which originally appeared in print as part of a WPA-sponsored collection. Slappy Hooper, ``the world's biggest, fastest, bestest sign painter,'' has an oversize problem: the signs he creates are too darn lifelike. His picture of a rose attracts bees, while a sign featuring a hot summer sun melts snow. One catastrophe follows another, until Slappy paints himself out of a job. On the verge of chucking his paint kit into the river, the despairing hero is approached--in a rather saccharine plot twist--by Michael, from the Heavenly Sign Company, and hired to paint the world's sunrises and sunsets. Busy drawings, peopled with cartoonish look-alike figures (Slappy and Michael seem to be the same man in different costumes) add little zest to this overly cute story. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)