cover image The Straight Line Wonder

The Straight Line Wonder

Mem Fox. Mondo Publishing, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57255-206-7

A straight character literally learns to bend a little in this chipper fable about being true to one's self. In a fantasy world inhabited by straight lines that are distinguished only by their hats, hair or manner of dress, one rebel decides to ""jump in humps,"" much to the astonishment of his pals. Disregarding others' opinions of him, the rakish fellow goes on to ""twirl in whirls,"" ""point his joints"" and ""creep in heaps."" In a climactic spread, his audacity lands him a role in a famous director's film (Rosenthal shows the standout line in a spotlight), and ultimately he earns the admiration of his once dubious peers. Fox's praise for individuality is clearly expressed, and her use of repetition makes for a jaunty read-aloud. Rosenthal has indeed worked wonders with his given characters. He succeeds in attributing the thick black lines with personality through a shock of wild hair, wire-rim spectacles or a bright baseball cap. India ink and watercolor scenes feature strong blocks of muted green, smoky blue, mauve, burnt orange and black that take on a 1940s period look. His images of lines driving cars, walking the streets and conversing will bring on the chuckles. And together, Fox and Rosenthal reassure children that it's okay to cross that line and express who you really are. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)