cover image Eerie Dearies: 26 Ways to Miss School

Eerie Dearies: 26 Ways to Miss School

Rebecca Chaperon. Simply Read (Ingram, dist.), $19.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-927018-40-8

Canadian artist Chaperon uses a standard %E2%80%9CA is for" structure in her children's debut, but when that A stands for %E2%80%9Castral projection," it's immediately apparent that this is a rare and special abecedary. It's impossible not to feel the presence of Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies in Chaperon's portraits of somber, willowy girls, tidily dressed in pleated skirts, Peter Pan collars, and ribbons. For G, a redheaded girl eating her breakfast cereal is beset by tiny gremlins that tug at her hair and arm. %E2%80%9CSeparation anxiety" keep a pair of girls from school%E2%80%94kneeling cheek to cheek, they appear to be conjoined twins. By themselves, the images can be foreboding, unsettling, or bleakly funny; what takes them to another plane entirely is that Chaperon paints them on the covers and interiors of weathered old books, creating delicious thematic connections. A pink book jacket screams Now We Are Enemies as a girl with a sword glares off-page for %E2%80%9CR is for Revenge"; a %E2%80%9Cdumbstruck" student's empty speech bubble is set against a yellowed index page crammed with verbiage. Just creepy enough to make parents insist on driving their kids to school. All ages. (Feb.)