cover image Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers

Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers

John Dougherty, illus. by Sam Ricks. Putnam, $15.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-101-99662-1

Exuberantly silly from start to finish, this madcap fantasy from British author Dougherty introduces a boy named Stinkbomb and his younger sister, Ketchup-Face, who live on the tiny island of Great Kerfuffle. When Stinkbomb’s piggy bank is burgled, he blames badgers (“Think about it. They do bad things because they’re badgers. If they weren’t bad, they’d just be gers”). But after the siblings travel to the (cottage-size) castle of King Toothbrush Weasel, hoping he will banish badgers from the island, the king instead assigns them that very task. Dougherty packs his story with winking references to adventure story tropes, as well as self-referential, metafictional humor (“Do you mean you’re in a story now?” the king asks the children. “Oh, yes,” responds Ketchup-Face. “You can tell because of all the chapters and page numbers and stuff”). Between playful typography, a nearly nonstop onslaught of jokes, and Ricks’s jittery b&w cartooning, it’s a solid choice for readers who have exhausted the Captain Underpants library. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Julia Churchill, A.M. Heath. Illustrator’s agent: Minju Chang, Bookstop Literary. (Feb.)