cover image Stalling


Alan Katz, illus. by Elwood H. Smith, S&S/McElderry, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-5567-2

Unlike Katz's many books of silly songs and poems, this picture book is an extended poem about a boy who avoids going to bed for so long that his parents fall asleep first. When his mother suggests a bedtime story, Dan says, "First I got stuff to do!" What follows is an exclamatory, frenetic, and long stream-of-consciousness list of activities that spill across the pages: "Creep like slow snails!/ Clip my toenails!/ Wrap my tummy like a mummy!" The meter is all over the place, and Katz throws in everything except the kitchen sink, emphasizing the boy's attitude that anything (even mathematics and making paper fans) is better than sleeping. Smith depicts Dan as a football-headed bundle of energy, who interacts with digitally collaged images of postcards, camels, dinosaurs, and more. Some of the incongruent activities will be beyond the ken of the target audience ("Act like a swami! Do origami!"), and Katz's ending advice ("Yes, kids can outlast parents—no matter where, no matter when") and the preceding antics are likely to inspire similar giddiness if read before bed. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)