(Yawn!) Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker
ONE DAY MR. AND MRS. DULLARD HAD A NASTY SURPRISE.
The Dullards found their children reading--books!
Then their kids, Blanda, Borely, and little Dud, tried to slip outside to play. Next they're going to want to go to school, their parents fretted!
"WHERE DID WE GO WRONG?" SAID MRS. DULLARD.
"PERHAPS IT'S THIS PLACE," SPECULATED MR. DULLARD. "LAST FALL, I REMEMBER, THE LEAVES CHANGED COLOR.
IT'S LIKE A CIRCUS AROUND HERE."
The Dullards decide to try a move to a duller part of town. They repaint the new place, first debating over whether gray walls will remind the kids of paved roads and over-stimulating travel.
THAT COULD MAKE THE KIDS WANT TO GO SOMEWHERE.
Brown paint is nixed for fear it might inspire a desire to try pottery making. The Dullards settle on a mixture of the two--greige, a color guaranteed not remind anyone of anything anybody wants to think about for long.
With the environment suitably quieting, it's time for a little family togetherness time.
Leading the children away from the unplugged television set, the parents try to divert their attention from the freshly painted walls, like with some nice blank sheets of paper. But, alas....
THEY WERE COMPLETELY MESMERIZED.
ALL DAY LONG THE DULLARDS WATCHED THE PAINT DRY.
Parenting is never easy, and in Sara Pennypacker's Meet the Dullards (Balzer + Bray, 2015), Mr. and Mrs. Dullard are in no danger of be accused of encouraging free-range children. Artist Daniel Salmieri is clearly in on satirizing the hover-parent, attiring his dull, duller, dullest family in flat, shapeless gray garb, while using the illustrative device of the window through which the kids are sometimes seen trying to overstimulate themselves by outdoor play, or even worse, escaping to the circus which has just come to town (stealthily advertised in a poster in the background of one page). Kids will get the spoof, and parents will enjoy the satiric twist on protective parenting, but one reviewer takes an ironic stand: "I appreciated that Pennypacker resolves her story without forcing Mr. and Mrs. Dullard to embrace spontaneity and imagination and color and all the other things that movies and books always insist make life worth living. (Those things do make life worth living, but it's tiresome to keep hearing about it.)" says the curmudgeonly New York Times reviewer Bruce Handy.