cover image The Costume Party

The Costume Party

Victoria Chess, . . Kane/Miller, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-929132-87-4

First published in France, this droll story about Madame Coco and her five bull terriers will appeal to anyone who has wondered what to do on a rainy day. The unadorned text contains plenty of repetition ("This is Madame Coco with her little family. Here is Nico. Here is Fanny. Here is Claude, and here are Daisy and Rose"), and the plot is uncomplicated (to keep her pets entertained during a spate of bad weather, Madame Coco helps them plan a costume party). But it's Chess's (Slugs ) comical illustrations that lend the book its wit. Her understated humor rivals Jack Benny's: Rose comes to the party dressed as a daisy, while Daisy comes dressed as a rose. The terriers spend days planning games, decorations and snacks with the kind of fierce concentration, curiosity and exuberance of bright toddlers. Whether they are blowing up balloons or sniffing plump sausages, the dogs' bodies are animated by Chess's deft use of line. When the text says simply, "The milkman brought the beverages," the illustration portrays five tumbling terriers filled with barely contained energy. The sentence, "they were so excited that they could not sleep," is accompanied by the pooches with their eyes popped open and Madame Coco sound asleep with her false teeth resting in a jar on the bedside table. The eccentric Madame Coco and her amusing dog family are as irresistible as a litter of new puppies. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)