cover image McFig and McFly: A Tale of Jealousy, Revenge, and Death (with a Happy Ending)

McFig and McFly: A Tale of Jealousy, Revenge, and Death (with a Happy Ending)

Henrik Drescher, . . Candlewick, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3386-8

McFig and McFly start out as happy neighbors, and their children (a girl named Rosie and boy named Anton, respectively) quickly become soulmates. But the two men soon find themselves caught up in a competition to see who can build the bigger, better house: “Eyebrow windows versus fish-scale shingles... gabled dormers versus Dutch doors... It all got so fancy that neither McFig nor McFly knew what anything meant anymore, except that they had to outdo each other at any cost.” An expansive foldout center spread captures the two Gaudi-esque follies in full glory—and also signals the beginning of the end. With the passing of a generation, the madness stops, love blooms and the title’s parenthetical resolution is achieved. Drescher is ever the master of illustration-as-fever-dream, and his writing has the redolent, chummy feel of a fireside tale. But Rosie and Anton are rather pallid, passive reader-surrogates (they’re even drawn far more conventionally than the grotesque McFig and McFig), and kids may have trouble connecting with the story. The real audience for this mixture of cautionary themes and architectural detailing may be adults who have undergone renovation hell—or renovation envy. Ages 5-up. (May)