The Crankypants Tea Party

Barbara Bottner, illus. by Ale Barba. Atheneum/Dlouhy, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5900-6

A girl named Clarissa pops out of her teapot-shaped house and invites an ensemble cast of stuffed animals to an al fresco tea party in this picture book play. “NO THANK YOU!” they chorus, unleashing a litany of complaints (“Rabbit:... You left me outside. I’m still damp”) and some infighting (“Pup: Elephant’s a big baby”). Declaring them all “a big bunch of CRANKYPANTS,” Clarissa continues preparing for the party, even as storm clouds roll in and grievance grows into full-out mutiny (“Pig: I’m losing my stuffing. BECAUSE OF YOU”). The bickering toys really do have their owner’s number when they call her “Queen Clarissa”—she’s more than a little unapologetic, even if her reasoning reveals good intent (“Clarissa: I left Rabbit outside because he said he enjoyed the breeze”). Bottner’s (I Am Here Now) playscript-style text offers a terrific readaloud—there’s nothing like strong personalities and squabbling to inspire dramatic performances. And bold, bright acrylic illustrations by Barba (Time Out!) are spot-on, capturing blithe determination, nursed grudges, and, eventually, friendships largely repaired. Ages 4–7. [em]Author’s agent: Rick Richter, Aevitas Creative Management. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Camacho, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (June) [/em]