cover image Why a Disguise?

Why a Disguise?

Laura Joffe Numeroff. Simon & Schuster, $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80513-4

Less clever than some of her previous work, Numeroff's (If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers) latest tale will still entertain fans. Kids will automatically warm up to her ingenuous narrator as he shows how a disguise is ""a very handy thing to have around"" and then outlines the do's and don'ts of deceptive dress. Donning a Groucho-style glasses-and-nose mask complete with an attached beard, the resourceful fellow demonstrates how such a disguise can help ""you"" avoid being told ""It's your turn"" by the dentist's nurse, let you off the hook when your mother tries to serve you lima beans and prevent visiting relatives from pinching you on the cheek and telling you how much you've grown. Youngsters will be tickled by the exaggerated power of this minimal disguise, which lets the boy hide his identity even from his parents. Yet it is McPhail's (Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore!) lighthearted watercolor art, flooded with droll visual tidbits, that will get the laughs here. A bathtime scene is especially funny as Mom casts a cool, appraising eye at the narrator, half-naked beneath his oversize beard. In the end, however, wholesomeness prevails: as the boy's parents tuck him into bed, Numeroff reminds readers that ""it's nice to know that you're still you."" Ages 4-6. (Apr.)