cover image Mrs. Piccolo's Easy Chair

Mrs. Piccolo's Easy Chair

DK Publishing, Jean Jackson. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2580-5

This prolix tale of an anthropomorphic armchair with a penchant for cheese puffs labors hard for little comedy. Struck by a sudden craving for its favorite snack, Mrs. Piccolo's smart-mouthed easy chair (""Mind your own business,"" it snaps to a nosy neighbor) decides to follow its owner to the grocery store, where it wreaks havoc and swallows (""slurp, gulp"") all who would thwart its mission. After buying three jumbo bags of cheese puffs and waddling home, the chair gives a loud burp and disgorges its human cargo (a police officer, Friendly Fred the grocer and a ""very large woman and her two plump boys""). Their distress is soothed by the arrival of Mrs. Piccolo, who treats them all to brownies and punch. Nicking a page from The Brave Little Toaster (and leadenly riffing on Edward Lear's ambulatory Table and Chair), Jackson's (Thorndike and Nelson) tale is neither particularly original nor funny. Despite a few amusing moments (Friendly Fred attempts to bar the chair from his store by pointing to a sign that reads ""No easy chairs""), the text is self-consciously wacky. Greenseid (When Aunt Lena Did the Rhumba) is similarly emphatic, conveying the antics with a vigorously eye-assaulting combination of purples, oranges and chartreuse and giving the overstuffed protagonist eyes and eyebrows. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)