by Mac Barnett
- OverDrive Read
February 8, 2016
Barnett focuses his inimitable blend of energy and fiendish imagination on children’s fascination with the rules. The scene is a vacation cabin with a posted set of regulations. Keep the rug clean, scrub the bathtub, feed the wood box, and “Never—ever—open the red door.” Younger brother Ian is a rule-follower who tucks his shirt in and always packs his toothbrush. Jenny, his older sister, breaks all the rules—and she pinches, too. After she defiantly opens the red door, the rug, bathtub, and woodstove transformed into large-as-life monsters that are ready to eat her (“ ‘Rulebreaker soup for dinner,’ they sang.... It wasn’t a very clever song, but the tune was catchy”). Underdog Ian comes to her rescue by cowing the monsters with Socratic reasoning: “Don’t you guys have toothbrushes?” he asks. “When you break the Toothbrush Rule, very bad things happen.” Myers’s acrylics revel in horror-movie parody, like the hellish light emitted by the red door and the bearskin rug stalking the siblings in their bunk beds. No solemn moralizing, just a rib-tickling, slightly subversive readaloud. Ages 3–5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.
June 1, 2016
K-Gr 2-Ian likes rules. His older sister Jenny does not. The woodsy vacation house where their family is spending the summer comes with a posted set of rules, including a prohibition against opening a certain red door. Naturally, Jenny ignores all the rules, even the one about the red door. Her defiant opening of this door during an argument with Ian changes the genre of the story from realistic to fantastical, as all the household devices whose rules she's ignored ("Remove muddy shoes before you enter the house") come alive, each claiming that it will have rule-breaking Jenny for dinner. As the errant rug and appliances chop vegetables and sing made-up songs, Ian saves the day by citing a rule that they themselves have broken, giving Jenny the opportunity to help scare the creatures away. An early page showing trails through the woods literally causes the plot to wander, but occasional pages featuring just one line of text add suspenseful pacing. Painterly illustrations quickly transform frightening images into comical ones, creating a mixture of silliness and creepiness-and alert viewers will notice the red eyes on the stove and rug just before they awaken. VERDICT A scary but silly sibling story about times when breaking the rules might just be okay. The perfect read to prepare for a stay at a vacation house.-Jill Ratzan, Congregation Kol Emet, Yardley, PA
Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
April 1, 2016
Rules are meant to be followed, but when monsters threaten to eat your sister, a little transgression might be in order. The old mountain cabin where self-righteous Ian and his savage pincher of a big sister, Jenny, come for a stay has four posted rules: don't track mud on the bearskin rug; don't leave hair in the tub drain; replace any wood burned in the stove; and especially, don't open a certain red door. No problem for Ian, a rule follower to the nth degree...but Jenny is a poster child for mutinous, ill-tempered preadolescence, and in no time she's broken all four. That night she's snatched out of bed by a toothy bear, a frowning tub, and a cast iron stove with jack-o'-lantern eyes to be boiled up into "rulebreaker soup." Just deserts, you say? So thinks Ian, at first. But he stops in his headlong flight to reflect that even if there isn't a rule about always saving one's sister from monsters, maybe there should be. Ian returns to compromise his principles with a little fib about a bigger monster that sends the three animated furnishings hustling back through the red door. Along with comically exaggerating the contrast between the red-haired, annoyingly tidy lad and his scowling sib, Myers pitches the two white kids against a trio of deliciously menacing boojums in atmospherically moonlit rustic settings. Jenny isn't exactly reformed afterward, but at least her pinches aren't as painful. Readers will (probably) agree that even the most irritating siblings don't deserve to be cooked and eaten. As a rule. (Picture book. 6-8)
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PublisherDisney Book Group
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