cover image Mitchell's License

Mitchell's License

Hallie Durand, illus. by Tony Fucile. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4496-3

Durand's (Dessert First) first picture book, an extended%E2%80%94and charming%E2%80%94gag, describes three-year-old Mitchell's bedtime treat. Perched on his long-suffering parent's shoulders, he gets to drive his father to bed, shifting into reverse by pulling on his father's ear, beeping the horn by bonking his nose, and topping off the "car's" oil by pouring the contents of his sippy cup down his father's throat. (The father coughs wildly; "The car was sputtering a little," Durand writes.) The pacing is riotous, stopping only for a little before-bed discipline ("This is the gas station," says Mitchell, heading for the cookie jar. " 'No,' said the car. Mitchell was surprised because the car had never spoken before.") Fucile's (Bink and Gollie) big spreads burst with comic energy; his background in animation and character development is evident in the way the father's face morphs from interest to exasperation and exhaustion. Digital illustrations experiment with pixilated, pastel-like lines and textures%E2%80%94great for whooshes of motion or a flashlight's beam, less so for the flush of a cheek or the father's hipster eyewear. It's a minor cavil, though; this one is destined for family favoritehood. Ages 3%E2%80%937. (Apr.)