If you ever find yourself wanting to explain to a child what the phrase “snowball effect” means, pick up a copy of David Mackintosh’s Lucky to aid your cause.
Mackintosh is an author-illustrator hailing from the U.K., who makes visually interesting and very funny picture books with busy, stylized collage illustrations. This new title playfully honors a child’s imagination with humor and heart.
The story is told from the point of view of a young boy, whose mother has promised him and his brother Leo a surprise. “Just wait and see,” she tells them when they ask what it is. The boys let their imagination go as the day wears on. Could it be curly fries? A new car? Separate rooms? Tickets to the amazing Yo-Yo Super Show at the town hall? When his brother declares that in all likelihood the parents won a family vacation to Hawaii in a contest, the boy is convinced. The news spreads at school—he even takes some classroom time to tell everyone about his trip—and the principal sings his praises. When he gets home to find that the surprise is pizza for dinner, he’s not only disappointed, but his family laughs about his confusion when Leo tells them. All’s well that ends well, however, when Leo adds some pineapple to the pizza—Hawaiian pizza, anyone?—and the good-natured family don leis, as if they’re actually lounging on Hawaiian shores.
There’s a lot of humor here (be sure to check out the placement of the dog door in the family’s home), and Mackintosh’s multimedia illustrations, with their relaxed lines and pops of color, are dynamic. Best of all, there’s honesty: “Sometimes grown-ups say things they don’t really mean,” the protagonist says. One senses that Leo knows this, too, but as the narrator notes in the final spread, Leo’s at least able to make the best of it. And the family may not be vacationing miles away from home, but they are enjoying one another’s company and their Hawaiian pizza in all their weird and wonderful glory.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.