cover image The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups

David Wisniewski. HarperCollins Publishers, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15339-7

Caldecott winner Wisniewski (Golem) spoofs conspiracy theories in this ""confidential"" volume, with a jacket designed to resemble a sealed manila envelope and illustrated with intricate cut-paper collages. ""As a parent, I went along with it all at first: going to secret meetings... preparing for the day when my kids would want to know why this and why that. But not anymore!"" confesses the narrator, whose typewritten words fill a crumpled sheet of brown paper. On the pages that follow, bulletins labeled ""TOP SECRET"" offer classified information. For example, ""Grown-up Rule #31: Eat your vegetables"" is followed by ""Official Reason: They're good for you."" This leads to ""The Truth: You don't eat vegetables because they're good for you. You eat vegetables to k...."" Here the document is torn as if by an enemy, and a turn of the page reveals, in oversize type: ""to keep them under control!"" A tyrannosaurus-style broccoli stalk marauds across the accompanying illustration, joined in its depredations by equally sinister carrots, radishes, etc. The engagingly silly formula repeats throughout, the text and the art consistent in their over-the-top humor and sure execution. The mock-official presentation gleefully contrasts with the utter ridiculousness of the ""facts,"" just as the painstaking cut-paper technique contrasts with the loony wit of the compositions themselves. Yet, strangely, the findings seem to prove that young readers should comb their hair and stop blowing bubbles in their milk--could this expose be the work of a double agent? Ages 7-up. (Apr.)