Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme

Avery Monsen, illus. by Abby Hanlon. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7595-5482-5

Freckled, pale-skinned Chester van Chime is completely discombobulated when he wakes up realizing he’s lost the ability to rhyme. In one of this picture book’s many clever linguistic misdirections, Monsen (All My Friends Are Dead, for adults) writes, “See, Chester loved rhyming, in poem or song./ It always felt right, but today it felt...//...not right. VERY not right.” As Chester makes his way to school, rhymes everywhere seem to taunt him. Gouache and colored pencil art by Hanlon (the Dory Fantasmagory series) depicts a goofy, fairy tale–like landscape defined by visual rhyme gags, including a “Shoe Zoo” (the animals inhabit a giant boot), a goat in a boat, and much more (the endpapers provide clues for any stumpers). Concerned, Chester’s classmates try to draw rhymes out, showing him objects associated with a series of words; in Chester’s state, however, cat is “tiny lion” and rat is “extra big, mousy-lookin’ dude.” But on the way home, Chester, relieved and relaxed, has a revelation. His rhyming groove returns as aural fits and starts turn to fluid, welcome rhyme, and the whole town celebrates. What starts out as a book about wordplay turns into an inventive and giggly antidote for the bad-day blues. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)
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