cover image The Tattletale

The Tattletale

Lynn Downey. Henry Holt & Company, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7152-8

Paparone's (Fire Fighters) acrylic paintings are the highlight of this tale of two piglet siblings. The younger, William, is the titular nosy porker: ""Mama,"" he hollers whenever his sees big brother Wembly doing something he shouldn't (like bouncing on the bed or picking his snout). Of course, William's tattling is really a way to engage the older brother whom he clearly adores: when Mama tries to stop the bickering by ordering the two piggies to stay away from each other (and Wembly ups the ante by painting a do-not-cross line down the middle of their shared room), William is visibly at a loss. The breach is healed when a bully named Iggy Hoggleswine asks Wembly to choose between being cool and being a responsible older brother, and Wembly makes the right choice. Downey (The Flea's Sneeze) overpacks her story with incident and, as a consequence, the narrative never really gathers steam; the Iggy Hoggleswine interlude seems to go on too long. But Paparone's carefully rendered pictures convey emotional depth. She makes William's pain in response to Wembly's rejection truly touching, yet balances the gravity with deadpan humor (she can even make the word ""MAma"" look funny). Ages 3-7.