cover image The Biggest Pest on Eighth Avenue

The Biggest Pest on Eighth Avenue

Laurie Lawlor. Holiday House, $14.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1321-8

""You are nothing but a pest,"" Mary Lou accuses her younger brother, Tommy, leaving no doubt from the start about the identity of this beginning reader's title character. When his sister refuses to let him take part in the play she and her friends plan to perform, the persistent child dangles from the roof, wades in the toilet and gets stuck in the laundry chute. Few readers will be surprised at what happens after the curtain opens: when all goes wrong on stage and the neighborhood kids demand their ticket money back, Tommy saves the play by stealing the show. Lawlor's (Shadowcatcher) text offers some spunky dialogue, and includes a sizable number of challenging vocabulary words as well as sophisticated verb tenses and sentence structures for those just starting to read (e.g., ""When she noticed the rows of chairs, benches, and boxes in the driveway, she knew something exciting and theatrical was about to happen in Mary Lou's garage""). Although Fisher's cheery illustrations provide some comical images (notably the kids' changeable facial expressions and Tommy as ""The Creature from the Black Magoo,"" shrouded by a garbage bag hiding all but his limbs), this passable performance isn't likely to bring the house down. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)