Don't Call Me Pruneface!
Janet Reed Ahearn, illus. by Drazen Kozjan, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-1918-0
The hero, bespectacled Paul, doesn't know how to cope with his new neighbor, the relentlessly belittling Prudence (she calls him "Pill" and insists "you're a cootie cockroach with glasses"). Finally pushed to the limit after earnestly trying to get his nemesis to act civilly, Paul lashes out with an insult he has used only in his head: he calls Prudence "Pruneface." His immediate remorse ("I feel bad all day"), and Prudence's surprising response should provoke some intriguing conversations with young readers, especially given that the one grownup in evidence, Paul's grandmother, is wholly ineffectual (the best she can muster are platitudes like "You catch more flies with honey"). Both first-timer Ahearn and Kozjan (the Julia Gillian series) are conventional storytellers—the book has the look and feel of a Sunday school text. But underlying the inelegant presentation are some rather provocative, politically incorrect ideas. Maybe grownups can't be counted on. Maybe anger does work. And most intriguing of all, maybe Prudence wants to be insulted. Ahearn and Kozjan don't seem to want to go there—but readers will. Ages 3–7. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/12/2010