cover image Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning

Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning

Jacqueline K. Ogburn. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1376-5

Much of the fun of this oddball romp is rereading it for the clues missed the first time through. The protagonist's name (given to the title) is an early indication that our protagonist is, well, of a different breed. While returning home for a French lesson with her tutor, Scarlett is kidnapped by the family chauffeur, Ralph Falstaff. Her parents agree to meet Falstaff at a cemetery and pay the ransom, on one condition: she must be home before dark. Their provision seems utterly sensible, but it ushers in a shivery surprise. As Scarlett's parents arrive with the money, a full moon appears in the night sky-and the dignified couple begins to howl. ""`Hold on kid, we're getting out of here!' [Ralph] shouted as he zoomed the car toward the gates of the graveyard. `Werewolves! I can't believe those people are werewolves.' And in the backseat Scarlett Angelina said, `GGGGRRRR.'"" Spooky, funny details (such as Scarlett's taste for very rare meat) find an outstanding match with Ajhar's swirling, murky and blithely comic watercolors. Some of the settings invoke the spirit of Charles Addams, but, with Ajhar's bright-eyed, toothy characters, he establishes his own kid-pleasing vision. Ages 5-up. (Sept.)