cover image The Things I Can Do

The Things I Can Do

Jeff Mack. Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-675-6

In a big departure from his previous work, Mack (Good News, Bad News) has created one of the most tactile-looking picture books in recent memory. Purportedly the work of a round-headed kid named Jeff, it’s a rhyming, crayon-scrawled, devil-may-care collage of all the things that make him an independent agent: “I can make my own lunch./ I can get my own drink./ I can take my own bath!/ Pretty cool don’t you think?” In addition to the standard craft closet materials (construction paper, stickers, white glue, and tape—and lots of it), Jeff sees artistic potential in just about any scrap, including a used paper towel, crumpled paper (an especially effective stand-in for worn underwear), sticky notes (the ideal media for portraying his nonstop raconteurship), actual crayons and pencils, and chewed gum. There’s considerable ingenuity at work and some effective audience pandering (one spread depicts green snot wiped on a sweater), and while the chaotic scenes won’t be to every reader’s taste, the messy free-for-all unmistakably channels Jeff’s creative energy. Ages 5–8. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (June)