cover image Phil Pickle

Phil Pickle

Kenny Herzog, illus. by Kelly Canby. Peter Pauper, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4413-1933-3

A nebbishy pickle dreams of theatrical stardom in a story that doesn’t quite live up to its premise. Phil Pickle, who lives in a jar on a grocery shelf, is determined to become an actor and avoid the fate common to most pickles: “Next to a burger and fries on a plate,” as one of his jar-mates puts it. He’s off to a good start: Phil has both an agent and an audition for a laundry detergent commercial. Newcomer Herzog includes some funny moments and wordplay (“Like pickles in a jar,” thinks Phil after he sees all of the actors he is up against for the audition). But while Phil triumphs in landing the role (and inspires at least one other pickle to explore her own passions), he never actually gets his moment on stage, which makes for an anticlimactic finale. Canby’s (All the Lost Things) illustrations, which have an edginess reminiscent of David Roberts’s work, do a fine job of caricaturing the aggressive directors, pushy agents, motley would-be stars, and doubting “sour pickles” in Phil’s life. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)