The New York Times Book Review - Pamela Paul
Heos's offbeat tale muses on the possibilities, playing off parental hopes and panicky nightmares.
From mustache parties to Movember, upper lip hair is the accessory du jour, and why should babies be left out of the fun? When Billy is born with a mustache, a helpful nurse tells his folks, “You’ll just have to wait and see whether it is a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache.” As Billy graduates to toddlerdom, his mustache appears to be a force for good: as a “man of the law” (complete with reflective sunglasses and badge), Billy “stopped speeders... outlawed poker... and caught thieves red-handed,” writes Heos (Stronger Than Steel). Never mind that his actions are completely annoying and disruptive to his siblings. When Billy’s mustache begins to grow and curl, it leads him into “a life of dreadful crime,” requiring jail time (or crib time, anyway) to straighten him out. Ang (I Will Not Read This Book) has a blast portraying Billy as hero, villain, and everything in between (with facial hair worthy of Tom Selleck or Snidely Whiplash, as needed); her digital illustrations have the warmth of acrylic painting, and the book’s oddball sense of humor is unflagging. Ages 4–8. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
"Occasional badness has never been so good."
"The book's oddball sense of humor is unflagging."
"A mustached baby will surely make audiences howl during read-alouds."
"You never know what you'll get in the delivery room, and something isn't quite right with this new baby. . . . Heos's offbeat tale muses on the possibilities, playing off parental hope and panicky nightmares."
—New York Times Book Review
"[This] book bristles with appealing humor."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Quirky, silly fun."
—School Library Journal
Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
When a family realizes that their brand new baby boy has been born with a mustache, they rely on the hospital nurse to explain what it means. She illuminates the familymom, dad, older brother and sisterthat mustaches come in two kinds, good and bad. "You'll have to wait and see," the nurse tells them, to see which type of mustache the new baby has. The family is much relieved to discover that baby Billy's hairy upper lip is noble and just, as shown by Billy's good deeds while he is a cowboy, a ringleader, a Spanish painter, and a sword fighter. As a Man of the Law, Billy's mustache aids him in his pursuit of speeders, gamblers, and thieves. However, Billy's mustache changes. As it grows and grows and curls on the ends, Billy transforms into a bad guy, which leads him to a life of crime as a cat burglar, a cereal criminal, and a train robber. This path lands him in jail (a.k.a. his crib). Later, Billy's mother releases him from jail and his remorse about his evil deeds leads mother and father to conclude that it is only a bad-mustache day and everything will be good again. The final surprise ending page of this irresistible and quirky picture book is worth the price of the book! Reviewer: Krisan Murphy
School Library Journal
K-Gr 1—This nonsense picture book is about a baby who is born with a mustache. As Billy grows up, the mustache informs his various identities: cowboy, ringleader, Spanish painter, sword fighter, and man of the law. But then, it grows and curls and becomes a bad-guy mustache. Billy then becomes a cereal criminal, a bank robber, and a cat burglar, and gets thrown in jail. Fortunately, his parents are able to reassure him that everyone has a bad-mustache day. Billy becomes a good guy again and scoots off to play with his new neighbor, a little bearded guy. Digitally rendered illustrations are saturated matte cartoons. For the most part, they mirror the text, although the humor is often in the contradictions; while the narrator claims that "everyone loved having Officer Billy around," for example, his sister and brother glare at him for ruining their play. Quirky, silly fun.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Outlaw or lawman…the mustache will reveal the truth! "When Baby Billy was born, his family noticed something odd: / He had a mustache." When they ask the nurse what it could mean, she answers that they'll have to wait to "see whether it turns out to be a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache." At first, Billy's a cowboy, protecting his cattle (teddy bear) from attack (by the family dog) and caring for injured animals (his torn bear). Obviously a good-guy mustache! He becomes a "ringleader. A Spanish painter. A sword fighter. And finally… / A man of the law." But as he grows into toddlerhood, his mustache begins to curl at the ends and becomes a bad-guy mustache! After some cat burglary, "cereal" crime and train robbery (including the track), he's caught and thrown in jail (a barred crib). After ages, his mother busts him out, and his parents explain that everyone has "a bad-mustache day" every once in a while. Heos' simple and silly metaphorical tale of the terrible twos will definitely entertain parents and children older than Billy. Twos will, at least, giggle over every page of the digitally created, jewel-eyed, cartoon illustrations, with their mix of Saturday-morning slapstick, dramatic comic-book angles and mustachioed babies. Occasional badness has never been so good. (Picture book. 3-6)