cover image Bowling Alley Bandit

Bowling Alley Bandit

Laurie Keller. Holt/Ottaviano, $12.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9076-5

Keller continues the saga of the fast-talking star of her 2003 picture book, Arnie the Doughnut, in this funny kickoff to a heavily illustrated chapter book series. Arnie sets the scene with a brief rehash of that story, in which Mr. Bing decides (with some persuasion) not to eat Arnie, but to adopt him as his “doughnut-dog.” In this tale, Arnie accompanies Mr. Bing to the bowling alley, where his team is competing for the league championship. Arnie’s wisecracking narrative, zippy dialogue and asides, exuberant typography, and riotous cartooning (Albert Einstein even makes a couple cameos) all feed the tale’s full-throttle slapstick humor. Arnie sings karaoke (“Doughnut make my brown eyes blue”), leads the crowd in belting out “Take Me Out for Some Bowling” during the “seventh-frame stretch,” and makes some bowling alley friends (“In fact, between the bowling balls, bowling pins, and rental shoes I’ve made 8 homies, 11 peeps, and 13 BFF’s!”). And, as frosting on the—well, doughnut—he also discovers why Mr. Bing is throwing gutter balls. Keller shrewdly targets hesitant readers with an abundance of goofy comedy. Ages 7–10. (June)