cover image Ah Ha!

Ah Ha!

Jeff Mack. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-1265-7

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Reprising the ultrasimplified storytelling of Good News, Bad News, Mack uses just a few interjections (and just two letters)—“AH HA,” “AAHH,” and “HA HA”—to capture an impressive range of emotions while telling a story that’s as funny as it is fraught with incident. Frog just wants to kick back and loll in the sun, but no one else got the memo. A kid tries to take him home in a jar, and Frog’s fellow ecosystem inhabitants (a turtle, gator, and flamingo) want him for a snack. “AH HA” can evoke the joy of finding the perfect snoozing place, the triumph of outfoxing a predator, or the apparently imminent triumph of said predator; “AAHH” can be a sigh of relief or Mack’s version of the Wilhelm scream. Read-alouds ought to be gripping performances, with ample opportunities for audience interaction. But this is more than just a great script: it’s gorgeous, too, with lush and tightly composed images, hypersaturated colors, and textures reminiscent of midcentury printing. Ages 3–5. Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Aug.)