cover image Special Delivery

Special Delivery

Philip C. Stead, illus. by Matthew Cordell. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-931-3

Stead (Sebastian and the Balloon) channels some Russell Hoban–style loopiness with this story about Sadie, a girl attempting to ship an elephant to her Great-Aunt Josephine, “who lives almost completely alone and could really use the company.” When postal employee Jim shows Sadie how many stamps this would require—a wheelbarrowful—Sadie swipes a handy biplane and stuffs her elephant into the passenger seat. A crash follows, and an alligator comes to the rescue, after which Sadie and her elephant join a band of monkey train robbers, and complete their trip via ice-cream truck. Cordell’s (Rooting for You) loose pen, ink, and watercolor drawings, festooned with cheerful hand-lettered words (the phrase “chugga chugga beans beans” is especially likely to become a household mantra), strike precisely the right note of genteel wackiness. It isn’t easy to sustain and control a story that unfolds with the speed and unpredictability that this one does, but Stead and Cordell—like Sadie herself—deliver the goods. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.)