cover image Tilly the Trickster

Tilly the Trickster

Molly Shannon, illus. by Ard Hoyt. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0030-9

At the outset of actress Shannon's debut children's book, her saucy heroine announces, "I love, love, love to play tricks." What follows is more a how-to guide for some not-too-malicious pranks than a story with much of an arc. After dressing for school, Tilly pretends she's still asleep to surprise her mother, and her next trick spirals into slapstick as an attempt to make her father spill his water results in the breakfast table overturning, sending food and family members flying. Hoyt's (Piggies in the Kitchen) boisterous watercolor and ink cartoons expand the narrative with playful hyperbole. Steam shoots from a teacher's ears when Tilly gives her a spicy cinnamon candy, and when the principal sends Tilly home, she feigns remorse while winking at readers, jumping for joy in her imagination ("No school!"). Even after Tilly's family plays a trick on her, it's clear she has no intention of mending her ways, which avoids a didactic conclusion, but also any real character development. Though Tilly's high-spirited voice gives her story some oomph, this won't be a must re-read for most kids. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)