cover image Just One Flick of a Finger

Just One Flick of a Finger

Marybeth Lorbiecki. Dial Books, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1948-4

Speaking with a staccato, rap-like cadence, the teenage narrator of this stark picture book for middle-graders sets the scene: ""The rule/ at my school/ is you're a fool/ if you can't get/ your hand on a gun."" So when his nemesis, Reebo, gets in his face, the narrator steals a revolver from his father's drawer as the man sleeps off his beer. Lorbiecki (Of Things Natural, Wild, and Free) here interjects a trenchant note; as the boy grabs the gun, he muses: ""I wondered then and there/ if he would care/ if something happened to me."" When he brings the weapon to school, his best pal, Sherms, ""freaks"" and reminds him that his ""big bro"" is doing time for a gun-related incident. But the warning falls on deaf ears; the narrator reaches for the gun after Reebo provokes him, and Sherms gets shot trying to intervene. They all survive and obviously learn a lesson, which Lorbiecki unequivocally passes on to readers. Adopting a design reminiscent of Diaz's Wilma Unlimited, this book superimposes his stylized paintings of harsh, tension-filled scenes against backgrounds of digitally manipulated photos. These present a variety of images, some recognizable and some abstract, reproduced in neon colors that command as much attention as the author's message. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)