Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Nose To Nose! Neck And Neck by Elise Paisley

Life in the zoo was glorious for Leopold.

Every day kids laughed and cheered, and the snacks... were delicious.

The morning began with the usual squeals of admiration.

"Oh, boy! Oh, boy! The TALLEST ANIMAL IN THE WORLD!"

Leopold RULES the ZOO. He's the tops--literally.

But one day as he is greeting his loyal public, he gets a shock.

Leopold turned... and gasped

at the gleaming smile bobbing beside him.

It's a gigantic giraffe-head balloon, held by a grinning boy. And Leopold's erstwhile fans are fickle!

For some reason, the kids are quite taken with the thing! They go ga-ga over the balloon, as the kid holding the string makes it bob and duck and do loop-the-loops. He brags that it smells fresh and doesn't have to have to be fed giraffe treats.

Leopold gives himself a sniff. Who says he's not fresh? He twists himself like a pretzel, looking between his legs at his tail. Who says he can't do tricks?

"I zoom! I bounce!" Leopold boasts.

But all eyes are still on the balloon. Leopold finds himself a bit winded, while the balloon zebra's fat face still has that phony smile. They're eyeball to eyeball, and Leopold has just blinked.

He stalks off to sulk under his favorite tree. How can his former fans desert him? His rival is an airhead, full of hot air. He's a grinning, gassy, goofus! As Leopold ponders the fickle finger of fame, he spots something with... possibilities. His acacia tree has... THORNS! Hmmmm!



But Leopold's glee turns glum when he sees the crestfallen face of the kid holding the now deflated balloon.

Awwwww! Now all the kids are sad. Leopold feels terrible. What can he do?

Will Leopold redeem himself?

Is this a picture book or what? There's a surprise ending in store (and lots of laughs and a little lesson in humility all around) in Elise Parsley's latest, Neck and Neck (Little, Brown, 2018). Author-illustrator Parsley, creator of the top-selling If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't! (Magnolia Says DON'T!) and sequels, (see reviews here), is back in fine fettle in this new one. Her premise is as preposterous and her illustrations as wild and woolly as ever, and her story is perfectly paced to keep the pages turning in this nose-to-nose, neck-to-neck, eyeball-to-eyeball face-off that is fantastically full of top-of-the-heap fun.

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