cover image Telephone


Mac Barnett, illus. by Jen Corace. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1023-3

Barnett (Extra Yarn) and Corace (I Hatched!) prove delightful collaborators as they inject new fizz into an old parlor game. On a telephone wire above a street lined with houses, a maternal-looking pigeon turns to a cardinal holding a baseball bat. “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner,” she says. A page turn provides a comic pause as the cardinal filters what it’s heard through its love of baseball. “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers,” the cardinal whispers to the goose on the wire next to him. The goose, wearing aviator’s goggles, has its own set of mental filters (“Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers”), and the fun continues down the wire. The pale blue sky and mounds of white clouds behind the birds lend a spacious, desultory air to the proceedings, yet the concentrated areas of texture and pattern where the birds interact are crammed with visual interest. The idea that one’s own passions affect the way one engages with the world is a subtle concept, but it’s presented with verve and humor. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)