Ian Lendler’s meditation on the first half of a weekend is from a child’s point of view, and therein lies its humor. A young boy’s sunny outlook on all the good things a Saturday offers is juxtaposed with the parents’ view of the proceedings, and as you can see on the book’s cover, they have very different views of the matter.
The boy loves Saturdays, because everyone stays home. He and his younger sibling get to play with their parents, work on projects, play superhero and much more. After each activity the boy lists, a page turn reveals the reality of the situation from his parents’ perspective. The boy loves to play “rocket ship ride to the moon,” and illustrator Serge Bloch shows him and his brother on an adventure of the grandest sort, complete with a ship and helmets. But a page turn reveals that, in reality, his dad is swinging them in a blanket, which takes strenuous effort on his part. Sometimes, the boy notes, “our rocket runs out of gas,” and we see Dad working up a sweat. Playing the defend-the-castle game really means the boy’s long-suffering parents are his prisoners; once again, a page turn reveals these shifts in reality, all played for humor.
Lendler, who has written several graphic novels for young readers, leaves room in this relatively spare text for Bloch to have fun. Bloch uses a lot of patterned textures and halftone surfaces (the endpages are the trippiest ones you’ll see this year) in his pencil-and-Photoshop illustrations to give the book a modern look. And it’s not all misery for the parents: The boy’s favorite part about Saturday is “when there’s nothing left to do,” and here the whole family piles on the couch for a jumbled group hug of sorts, albeit one filled with lots of elbows. Bloch puts a smile on everyone’s face, including those of the fatigued parents.
It all adds up to less of a narrative but more of a snapshot of a happy weekend day with an overly excited boy and his loving, if worn out, caretakers.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.