cover image Always Listen to Your Mother

Always Listen to Your Mother

Florence Parry Heide and Roxanne Heide Pierce, illus. by Kyle M. Stone, Disney-Hyperion, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-1395-9

With a receding hairline, bowtie, and suspenders, young Ernest looks like he's well on his way to becoming a middle-aged momma's boy. "Ernest always listened to his mother. Nice little children always listen to their mothers," deadpans the narrator, setting up the kid-pleasing mayhem to come. When Ernest goes to meet the new family next door (because mothers "want their children to meet nice children who will be a good influence"), he meets Vlapid, who resembles a miniature bat-eared Frankenstein, and his vampirish mother. She, too, demands obedience, which involves scribbling on the walls and swinging from the chandeliers. Heide and Pierce's (Tio Armando) slyly restrained tone is an effective straight man to Stone's (I Love My Pirate Papa) embellished mixed-media illustrations. His offbeat characters evoke those of David Shannon, but Stone surprises and further engages his audience with a palette of rich, varied textures. A closeup image of lace serves as a tablecloth, while a green field appears to be a wash of green paint over a floral Victorian wallpaper in reds and yellows—an interesting juxtaposition, not unlike the two new friends. Ages 3–7. (Aug.)