cover image Heat Wave!

Heat Wave!

Helen Ketteman. Walker & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8644-9

Surreal artwork sets a tongue-in-cheek tone for this rollicking original tall tale that would do Paul Bunyan proud. When record temperatures send the mercury shooting ""out of the porch thermometer like a rocket,"" strange things begin to happen on a Kansas farm--flowers pull up their roots and high-tail it for the shade beneath the porch; geese fly through a hot cloud and emerge ""plucked, stuffed, and roasted,"" and cornfields release a blizzard of popcorn. Fortunately, the family's quick-witted daughter saves the day, concocting schemes to rescue their harvest (such as milking the cows, who by this time are giving melted butter, and pouring it over the popcorn to sell at a local drive-in theater) and chase the heat away (a crop of iceberg lettuce does the trick). Ketteman's (Bubba, the Cowboy Prince) deadpan delivery heightens the humor, and Goto (Shooting Star) makes hay visually with color-saturated images that play off the intense weather conditions: fire-engine red farm equipment and emerald green crops loom as readers look up from below or through fish-eye and wide-angle lenses. The pop-eyed livestock skates close to the grotesque--particularly the cows with their bulging eyes and udders--but manage to carry off the intended caricature. Verbally and visually clever, this is a diverting new addition to the recent crop of over-the-top tales. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)