cover image Bruno, You're Late for School

Bruno, You're Late for School

Kevin O'Malley. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-55670-287-7

Singular and strikingly animated, this almost wordless picture book makes the most of an uncomplicated plot. As the drama unfolds, Bruno, a young, pinkish rhinoceros, proudly deems his arithmetic homework ``perfect.'' Suddenly, Bruno sneezes, blowing the paper out his window and into the teeming city streets. Late for school and minus his homework, Bruno races after the paper, watching in anguish as it is used to wrap a hot dog, hosed down in a flowerbed and discarded. O'Malley's ( Froggy Went A-Courtin' ) compositions have the 3-D look of exploded frames from a comic-book panel. A detailed new scenario appears on every page, the effect being slightly cramped but impressive nonetheless. And while some of the anthropomorphic animal characters--bizarre bipedal frogs and a disgruntled owl--appear unsettlingly sinister, all are ideally cast--there's a business-suited bird of prey, an alligator garbage-collector, a matronly elephant and Bruno's teacher, an unsmiling turtle. These idiosyncratic, expressive drawings show a mastery of color and texture--and an infectious wit. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)