cover image You Can't Have Too Many Friends!

You Can't Have Too Many Friends!

Mordicai Gerstein. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2393-4

Nonsense and naivete rule Caldecott-winner Gerstein's (The Man Who Walked Between the Towers) retelling of Charles Marelle's 1888 fairy tale, "Drakestail." In this version of the repetition-driven story, the king%E2%80%94a heavyset boy wearing Chuck Taylors, a crown with the brim of a baseball cap, and an "I'm the king" T-shirt%E2%80%94"borrows" a bumper crop of farmer Duck's prize-winning jelly beans. After a year passes with the king failing to return the candy, Duck sets off to retrieve it. En route, he accumulates companions that mirror those in "Drakestail," whom he transports by having them shrink down to ride in his pocket, gullet, or ear (in the case of a swarm of wasps). One by one, they help thwart the king's attempts to do away with Duck. Gerstein's mixed-media cartooning creates a freewheeling atmosphere of silliness, although the dialogue is so lively ("I don't think my jelly beans are really here," says Duck after being led into the king's oven) that the brief bits of narration are almost superfluous. Still, it's an entertaining story of justice and jelly beans. Ages 3%E2%80%937. (Jan.)