cover image Brief Thief

Brief Thief

Michaël Escoffier, illus. by Kris Di Giacomo. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59270-131-5

Be forewarned—this story from the team behind Rabbit and the Not-So-Big-Bad-Wolf centers on the act of wiping after a poo. Yet it teaches a worthy lesson with sparkling dialogue and an excellent punch line. Goggle-eyed chameleon Leon, out in the forest doing his business, finds himself without any paper and instead uses a pair of underpants that are hanging on a tree. They appear to be abandoned, and “anyway, they’re full of holes.” Di Giacomo suggests the forest’s leaves and trees with splashed green paint, but her main interest is Leon’s beautifully abashed expressions. When a disembodied voice addresses Leon—“It’s me, your conscience”—his anguished grin gives the lie to his excuses. The voice bullies Leon into restoring things to their original state: “Go on, scrub! Like you mean it!” It turns out that there’s someone else in the forest who has a very specific use for those underpants. Escoffier has unusual insight into the psychology of doing something bad and getting caught. Readers will wince along with Leon, and laugh out loud when they find out what the underpants are really for. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)