cover image THAT CRAZY BARB'RA


Milton Schafer, , illus. by G. Brian Karas. . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2584-3

Poor Hubert Clumpty is by turns annoyed, chagrined, infuriated and begrudgingly charmed by Barb'ra in this blithe celebration of the torments of young love, which originated as a recording by Danny Kaye. But it's Karas's (Raising Sweetness ) mischievous cartoon watercolors that capture the book's made-for-six-year-olds humor. With goofy charm reminiscent of Peanuts' Lucy smitten with Schroeder, Barb'ra gazes lovingly at the object of her affection. She sits at the desk behind Hubert and pokes him with her toes. She calls him Humpty Dumpty in front of his friends, and while Hubert is swimming, she hides his clothes up in a tree. Karas manages to find just the right perspectives and expressions to emphasize the humor in Hubert's predicament. He pictures the disconcerted hero with one foot still in the water as he desperately uproots a miniature tree to shield his privates. "Ooh ! That crazy Barb'ra!" he laments at the end of the book. "Can't stand that crazy Barb'ra! And I'll never marry her... someday." The affected spellings (replac'ng letters with apostrophes) seems dated, as does Hubert's Jackie Gleason line, "Boy, one of these days. Just one of these days"; otherwise, Schafer's depiction of boy-girl teasing seems timeless. Its pairing with Karas's loopy visual comedy is a picture-book marriage made in heaven. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)