cover image TWO LEFT FEET


Adam Stower, . . Bloomsbury, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58234-884-1

Stower (Funny Stories ), in his first book as author and illustrator, introduces Rufus, a blue-skinned monster who loves to dance. It doesn't matter that he has two left feet and usually lands on his behind with a "Wallop! " at the monster disco, "his friends are always there to pick him up, dust him off, and tell him, 'Well, you're certainly the best at the Wallop, so don't worry.' " But when a messenger from the Glittering Palace announces a ballroom dance competition, Rufus is left out in the cold. Stower conveys the hero's sense of abandonment with a darkened page on which Rufus sits alone in a spotlight, staring at his offending feet. As even younger readers can probably predict, a cute girl monster shows up and invites Rufus to sit on the sidelines with her; however, the two wind up tripping the light fantastic and they outshine everyone (she has two right feet). The rather obvious text may carry a flatfooted message, but Stower's watercolor-and-ink pictures possess a waltz-like grace. While's there's enough broad humor to satisfy contemporary kid sensibilities, the delicate ink lines and golden, shimmery colors at times give the artwork the appearance of classic hand-tinted etchings. And Rufus, with his spindly head appendages and gold-buttoned waistcoat, is a charmer. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)