cover image Second Banana

Second Banana

Blair Thornburgh, illus. by Kate Berube. Abrams, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4234-7

A red-haired young thespian is stoked about her class’s annual Food Is Fun Healthy Eating Good Nutrition Pageant: “Every kid plays a food. Every kid gets a line. It is a big deal.” But due to a larger-than-usual class size, she’s cast in the role of Second Banana, with only three words to say (“has potassium, too”). Mixed-media illustrations by Berube (Mae’s First Day of School) offer emotion to the spreads: when the narrating Second Banana finds out that she has to share her part, her stem droops; when she lies down in despair, her costume covers her like a turtle shell. Then she confesses her resentment to First Banana, who, far from reveling in time onstage, wishes she could be anywhere else; in reaction, Second Banana switches from mourning her obscurity to trying to ease First Banana’s anxiety. The setup gives Thornburgh (Skulls!) endless pun possibilities (“It’s such an a-peel-ing role” says the protagonist’s father), and the rest of Berube’s costumes—a blueberry that fits over a wheelchair, Swiss cheese with arms and legs—delight, too. A funny, gentle nudge in the direction of being a better banana. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Uwe Stender, Triada US. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Kilkelly, LK Literary. (Aug.)