cover image The Purple Kangaroo

The Purple Kangaroo

Michael Ian Black, , illus. by Peter Brown. . Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-5771-3

Drawing out a joke to fill 32 pages is a tricky proposition, and despite consistently droll artwork, Black's (Chicken Cheeks ) second picture book has trouble delivering. “I want you to think of something so spectacular that nobody has ever thought of it in the entire history of thinking about things,” a wiseacre monkey directs readers. After inviting them to “[l]ook deeeeep into my eyes”—Brown (The Curious Garden ) delivers a hysterical closeup of the primate (complete with pink hypno-swirls in its eyes)—the monkey shouts: “You were thinking about a purple kangaroo!... No? You weren't thinking about a purple kangaroo?” The monkey presses its case, adding over-the-top elements to an imagined story seen in thought bubbles. The purple kangaroo acquires roller skates, juggles bananas, blows bubble gum out of its nose, and eventually finds its best friend, “the wild-eyed chinchilla Señor Ernesto de Pantalones,” via a paisley blimp that takes it to the moon. But while the text and artwork are sprinkled with genuinely funny details, the monkey's often overlong additions sap the story's momentum as it proceeds to its inevitable punch line: “You're thinking of one now!!!” Ages 4–8. (Dec.)