cover image Russell Wrestles the Relatives

Russell Wrestles the Relatives

Cindy Chambers Johnson, illus. by Daniel Duncan. Aladdin, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9159-4

Every kid expects a certain amount of “hugging, hand-shaking, and hair-tousling” when relatives come to visit. But for Russell, a family reunion portends something much worse: his aunts, uncles, cousins, and two grandparents are all professional wrestlers, complete with costumes (one relative dresses in a luchador-style outfit) and vivid nicknames, such as “the Texas Tickler” (Grandpa) and “Dorothy the Dropper” (Grandma). Russell feels scrawny in comparison to this beefy clan, and he assumes he’ll be “squished like a toothpaste tube.” But when he inadvertently extricates himself from the various familial clutches, he proves that he’s got moves that mark him as a chip off the old family wrestling block. Duncan (Shark Nate-O) effectively uses watercolor-and-ink cartooning to capture Russell in extremis, getting crushed by relatives; Johnson ties up the story with a heartwarming bow, with Russell realizing how much his WWE-style family loves him and how disarming—literally—a lovingly proffered kiss on the cheek can be. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Minju Chang, BookStop Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: James Burns, Bright USA. (June) [/em]