cover image Klutz


Henrik Drescher. Hyperion Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0233-3

This hyperkinetic tale introduces the grinning, gawky Klutz family, whose ""clumsiness would start at the croak of dawn."" Drescher (Pat the Beastie; The Boy Who Ate Around) shows his customary affinity for the grotesque: the Klutzes have candy-cane-striped noses and wobbly limbs, and they wear heavy work boots that incline them to trip over anything in their path. Outrageous overstatement, another Drescher hallmark, characterizes the plot. ""One evening Poppa Klutz was fiddling with the radio/ while racing down a twisting mountain road""; a subsequent collision with Professor Squirmworm's circus truck results in the Klutzes finding their niche first as clowns and then, after they shed their work boots, as trapeze artists ""as delicate and graceful as ballerinas on thin ice."" In keeping with the hectic pace, lines of text twist and turn on the page in a melange of type styles. Drescher fills his spreads with multicolored stripes, scribbles of pencil and paint, and black-and-white collage; cutouts of antique machinery litter the pages, and perfectly groomed people from 1950s ads watch the action from the margins. An offbeat sense of humor (and an appreciation for exaggeration) is required to enjoy these verbal and visual high jinks. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)