cover image Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Tim Wynne-Jones, illus. by Brian Won. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7119-8

The title sounds promising—what kid wouldn’t want to turn shoe shopping into something more daring? But most of Wynne-Jones’s story happens after the hero, code name S.A.M., and his mother, code name K. (“Short for Kay”), buy matching tiger-striped sneakers. Their day together includes lunch out (S.A.M. orders “a double buffalo burger with a side of snakes and an electron float”), thwarting the attempted theft of “the Plans for World Domination” (by a baby in a stroller), and a rescue of the family laundry from the clothesline before a rainstorm. Wynne-Jones (the Zoom trilogy) creates some lovely, offhanded rapport between mother and son (“We are matching tigers,” says S.A.M. “Roar,” says K.), but the incidents pile up without really hanging together. The book ends up being a portfolio of themed drawings by Won (Hooray for Hat!), who is in terrific form. His digital images, which combine the look of 1960s animation with a variety of compositional styles, handily capture both everyday sights (a shoe salesman carrying an improbable number of shoeboxes) and the drenched-in-shadows menace of imagined international intrigue. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (June)