cover image King Kong’s Cousin

King Kong’s Cousin

Mark Teague. Beach Lane, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-66591-230-3

While building-size King Kong plays big cheese in the Big Apple, his far more diminutive cousin Junior lives an ordinary New York City apartment life with his mother and beloved cat, Bernice. Kong stars in movies and wrestles dinosaurs (heroic actions uniformly viewed as the stuff of celebrity); Junior hangs laundry and feeds his goldfish, Larry. Junior’s mother insists that he is “just as special as your cousin,” but Junior’s not so sure; he constantly checks his height, exercises, and even sneaks a snack of “Super Grow Fish Food.” On Thanksgiving Day—Kong is the city parade’s grand marshall, of course—Bernice gets stuck in a tree, and Junior doesn’t think twice before climbing up to rescue her (even though the ground is “very far away”). Teague (Cat Dog) tells his story with elegance and emotional authenticity; grayscale acrylic art winks at the classic film with details that reward close reading, while Junior’s yearning to be like his huge cousin scans more like a low-grade fever than an obsession—one mitigated not by a grand act of heroism but by helping someone he loves. Ages up to 8. (Aug.)