cover image Just Too Cute and Other Adorable Stories for Horrible Children

Just Too Cute and Other Adorable Stories for Horrible Children

Mike Reiss, illus. by Johnny Yanok, Perseus/Running Press Kids, $16.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7624-3524-1

Reiss (The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share) delivers a witty collection of poems and stories that emphasize mischief. While satirizing overly cute picture books in the title story, Reiss pokes wry fun at adults who excuse the incorrigible behavior of an adorable seal who escapes the zoo (“What a cutesy-wutesy, itsy-bitsy, chubsy-wubsy little guy!”). The humor is often sophisticated but nonetheless child-friendly. In “The Appalling Polar Bear,” the talented protagonist gets a string of jobs, including at the Cirque de la Jerques (“a fancy circus from Paris. Sure it was Paris, Texas, but still it was classy”), but can’t help eating his colleagues each time. While looking for new animal acts, agent Gavin Boloney finds “in France, a snail that could broil himself in garlic butter. Once.” The poems appearing between each story offer additional gross-out humor, but are less successful (“The Oyster” asks, “What is moister/ Than an oyster?/ Grampa’s Pamper/ Can be damper”). In cheerful cartoons that recall 1950s animation, newcomer Yanok keeps up with the madcap plots while adding whimsical details of his own. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)