cover image The Topsy Turvies

The Topsy Turvies

Francesca Simon. Dial Books, $14.99 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1969-9

James Marshall's Stupids and Dav Pilkey's Dumb Bunnies might feel right at home in the Topsy-Turvies' suburban household. The Topsy-Turvies, we learn, ""always got up at midnight. They put on their pajamas, then went upstairs and had dinner."" They carefully observe their manners, as when Mrs. Topsy-Turvy reminds her son to stop eating with his fork (""You know that's for combing your hair. Please use your fingers and toes""). When an unsuspecting neighbor asks the Topsy-Turvies to baby-sit her daughter, the family cheerfully encourages the girl to draw on the wallpaper and eat a five p.m. ""breakfast"" under the table. But after Simon (But What Does the Hippopotamus Say?) finishes her introductions, she runs out of ideas. She resorts to a time-tested plot device, a burglar, who crawls through a window, provides an excuse for the damage to the neighbor's house, then flees the absurdity. Ludlow (Big Pig's Hat) applies her gouaches thickly and plays with color value and intensity for a heightened sense of strangeness. Mrs. Topsy-Turvy's quilted pink bathrobe sets off her orange-red hair, the blue-gray sky and the houses' light yellow highlights--not to mention Mr. T-T's striped pajamas. But the art, too, loses its edge when the clicheed burglar arrives wearing prison stripes, a bandit mask and a five o'clock shadow. The Topsy-Turvies' weird world winds up looking typical after all. Ages 4-8. (June)