cover image Isabella Abnormella

Isabella Abnormella

J. Patrick Lewis, DK Publishing. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2605-5

Could the Princess (and the Pea) have grown up to be the Queen of Trouble? Though this silly ramble is not Lewis's (Riddle-icious) best, he includes some clever turns of phrase and provides Brooker (Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street) with a jumping-off point for some high hilarity. The town of Trouble blames a sleepless queen for their countless problems, and the overtired monarch blames her staff: ""My Royal Mattress/ is too hard, or else... / too soft!/ Is it too much to request--/ After all, I am the Queen--/ That I'd like a little rest/ On a bed that's... in between?"" Brooker comically depicts the ruler in her ""knickerbocker nightgown"" tiptoeing past a waiting bubble bath on her way to attempt a nap and later bug-eyed with a scroll's worth of tally marks for counting sheep. The collage and oil paint illustrations lend a tactile, nearly three-dimensional quality to the pile of pillows and mattresses the castle minions have assembled for the queen's slumber. And if the text itself focuses primarily on the adult protagonist, Brooker expands the scenery to include young Isabella Abnormella (""Keeper of the Royal Cat"") in nearly every spread. So that by the time Isabella pipes up with a solution to the queen's problem (a waterbed), readers will feel affirmed in their growing affection for her, which likely began with page one. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)