cover image Pretty Ugly

Pretty Ugly

David Sedaris, illus. by Ian Falconer. Toon, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-66266-527-1

This adapted fable by Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day) and the late Falconer (the Olivia series), reworked from a Little Lit anthology comic, is now an elegant standalone that showcases the creators’ urbane morality. Anna Van Ogre is the apple of her monstrous family’s eye. “That’s our girl,” says Grandma when Anna talks with her mouth full of nails. But though the young ogre successfully stomps on flowers and tosses dirt into the family home, her penchant for making adorable “scary” faces (“I’m a bunny!”) is her undoing. Ignoring her mother’s warnings, Anna finds her features stuck in the scariest face of all: a plump-cheeked, wide-eyed, pigtailed human kid. “Real beauty is on the inside,” assures Grandma, but other ogres’ contempt results in the child running away, until Anna takes Grandma’s wisdom in hand, quite literally. Sticking her arm down her throat, she turns herself inside out, becoming a gorgeously grotesque creature—think Bruegel meets Tales from the Crypt—with beet-red, veiny skin, bulbous eyes, and wrinkly brain atop her skull. It’s a happy resolution for all, including any reader who craves a celebration of individuality with a high yuck quotient. Skin tones take the white of the page. Ages 5–7. (Feb.)