cover image After Squidnight

After Squidnight

Jonathan Fenske. Penguin Workshop, $12.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9308-1

Fenske (I Will Race You Through This Book!) opens with a scene straight out of a creature feature. Working in spooky grays accented with bright teal (a tip-off, perhaps, that there’s lightheartedness afoot), he shows an army of grim-eyed squids oozing their way from the water to a house where a child sleeps beside an open window (“From the surf/ a suckered hand/ drags itself/ onto the sand”). In a twist that’s funny and more than a little moving, the squids aren’t bent on terrorizing; they’re frustrated artists determined to leave an enduring mark (“In water, squid art/ does not stay./ Inky drawings/ drift away”). Covering the house’s surfaces with their art (even the sleeping kid gets a temporary tattoo), they evince a graffitist’s inventive sense of context: a fish is sketched to look like it’s being electrocuted by a wall outlet, a clothes hook turns cephalopod. The child is left to take the fall (“In houses, squid art/ cannot stay./ You have to wash/ it all away”), but there seems to be little resentment; in fact, the final image shows that insatiable creativity will always, eventually, find an appreciative audience. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Carrie Hannigan, HG Literary. (July) [/em]