cover image Honest Tulio

Honest Tulio

John Himmelman. Bridgewater Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-3812-0

Buoyant cartoon art enlivens Himmelman's (Lights Out!) cumulative, picaresque tale of honesty rewarded many times over. Tulio, who lives in a wooden crate in a buzzing marketplace, performs chores for vendors and dreams of one day owning his own stand. As he embarks on a quest to return a coin to the man who dropped it, the boy's good deeds earn him a ludicrous collection of possessions (a furry hat in the shape of a poodle, a juggling monkey) and attendants (a marching band, five dancing giants). Himmelman's droll, cartoon-like pictures place readers at the hub of this merry, snowballing parade. The text is punctuated by homespun exclamations about Tulio's honesty: he's ""as honest as corn is yellow,"" and ""as honest as a cheese is smelly."" While the unexceptional narrative is driven by the sheer power of its own good-natured silliness, Himmelman's humorous visual details, such as an elephant jauntily sporting the poodle hat and a chicken pleased with herself for laying a square egg (she later provides Tulio with a livelihood), are likely to make readers glad to be along for the ride. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)