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Cousin John Is Coming!
     

Cousin John Is Coming!

by Elise Broach, Nate Lilly (Illustrator)
 

Lock the doors! Pack your bags! Run for your life! Sneaky Cousin John only acts like a bully when adults aren’t around, so Mom doesn’t know it’s a battle of wills every visit. Ben and his kitty are on the verge of fleeing . . . when inspiration strikes. Suddenly, he and his loyal kitty have reason to think that this visit will be fun, even if

Overview

Lock the doors! Pack your bags! Run for your life! Sneaky Cousin John only acts like a bully when adults aren’t around, so Mom doesn’t know it’s a battle of wills every visit. Ben and his kitty are on the verge of fleeing . . . when inspiration strikes. Suddenly, he and his loyal kitty have reason to think that this visit will be fun, even if it’s not the way Mom imagines.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Mom announces Cousin John is coming for a visit, the story's protagonists a boy and his cat experience a series of flashbacks and premonitions straight out of Grand Guignol. Unbeknownst to Mom, Cousin John is a bully par excellence. So while she's talking up the visit (hers is the only voice heard in the book) with bubbly exhortations such as, "for the whole weekend, we'll do just what you boys want to do," the heroes recall with horror the time John dangled them over an alligator pond, and gird themselves for upcoming games of pretend pirate play in which John will force them to walk the plank into a pit of porcupines and barbed wire. All seems lost until Mom reveals Cousin John's Achilles heel, which inspires the heroes to hatch plans of sweet revenge. The premise of clueless-adult-meets-evil-spawn-relative begins to wear thin about midway through the book. Readers may find themselves growing a bit numb to Cousin John's crimes, even when the visual litany is broken up with a few scenes of the underdogs triumphing. But readers will likely be won over by the hip, edgy and slightly sinister rendering style of debuting illustrator Lilly. His button-eye, expressive characters and humorous attention to detail recall classic comic-strip characters. Broach's (Wet Dog!) chirpy, keenly observed text acts as an effective comic foil to her collaborator's vision of an all-in-the-family near-apocalypse. Ages 4-up. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
While eating breakfast cereal, Ben receives some horrible news from his mother: Cousin John is coming. Ben begins to imagine all the horrors of the upcoming visit from his mean cousin, John. From being forced to walk the plank to being sawed in half, Ben�s imagination has no bounds. Ben and his cat, have worked themselves up into a terrified frenzy when his mom shares some more news: Cousin John is allergic to cats. With much relief, the tormented become the tormentors, as they begin to imagine what they will do when John gets there. The illustrations do an excellent job of capturing the detail in Ben�s daydreams. The drawings are simple, but readers can easily see the emotions in the faces of the characters, even the cat. The pictures capture the child�s over-imaginative mind. This is a great book for entertainment that succeeds in invoking the imagination; readers might even notice a little bird following them from page by page. Reviewer: Chris Hoover
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-When his blissfully out-of-touch mother announces Cousin John's upcoming visit, Ben and his cat flash back to all their previous encounters with this obnoxious relative and immediately start worrying. The lively text consists entirely of Mom's happy chatter about the fun the boys will have playing "cowboys-and superheroes- and magicians," but the accompanying illustrations tell a very different story, in which Ben usually plays John's hapless victim. Just as Ben and his cat are heading for the door, planning to escape, they learn that poor John has developed a violent allergy to felines and suffers terribly if one so much as approaches him. So, with high-fives and sidesplitting laughter, they roll out the red carpet and prepare to welcome their guest with open arms and plenty of pet dander. Barbara Bottner's Bootsie Barker Bites (Putnam, 1992) tells much the same story, but Broach's version, featuring male characters and radically different art, is by no means redundant. In Lilly's cartoon illustrations, created with pencil and digital color, the backgrounds are busier, the color scheme is harsher, and Cousin John looks like Eddie Munster gone evil. A fun choice for all collections.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The pictures tell the story here. As Mom chatters on obliviously about a malign cousin's impending visit, young Ben and his cat panic, recalling past episodes of bullying, abuse and general bad behavior-along, it should be noted, with the occasional prank in return. Debut illustrator Lilly gives his cartoon figures Little Orphan Annie eyes, large round heads and expressive faces; Ben and Cousin John look about the same, except that John sports a row of shark-like teeth, and the cat resembles a smaller sibling in an orange suit. The dismay instantly changes to wild glee, table-pounding and a string of visualized schemes, however, when Mom reveals that cousin John has a severe allergy to cats. This may provide similarly bullied children some measure of satisfaction, but as Ben and his pet aren't always the victims in the flashbacks, and are plainly looking forward to making their visitor's life miserable, the two don't exactly come off as angels themselves. A mixed message, at best. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803730137
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/08/2006
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 11.26(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Elise Broach lives with her family in rural Connecticut, where she writes books for children and teens, including When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, Shakespeare's Secret and Wet Dog!, and serves in town government. Visit Elise at www.elisebroach.com.

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