Hello, friends! Our book today is The Boy Whose Face Froze Like That, written by Lynn Plourde and illustrated by Russ Cox, a tale of mischief-making gone wrong.
Since the beginning of time, kids have made silly faces – it’s just something they do! And since the beginning of time, their parents have told them the familiar wives’ tale: “Stop it! Your face will freeze like that!” But perpetually-good kid Wendell never worries about that; he doesn’t make faces. He only ever follows the rules and plays it safe. That is, until the fateful day he gets to urge to try a silly face. Yet just as he’s settled on the perfect one, FLASH – Wendell’s face has frozen that way! The boy and his parents try everything to put his face back, but to no avail. What could have caused this? And will Wendell also be the first kid to ever have his face stuck that way… forever?
Underwhelming. The story starts with a strong and amusing concept, but quickly unravels. The initial conceit is that making silly faces in public is rude (sure), but Wendell is making his alone in his bathroom mirror – until, of course, his parents BURST IN to his private moment and start shouting. What’s rude about that? He wasn’t even doing it near another person! The root cause of Wendell’s stuck face turns out to be the pressure he feels to be perfect, though this given very little context – with the exception of their apparent disrespect for privacy, his parents aren’t shown to be overly demanding of their son; if anything, they seem to be the opposite. Lastly, while Wendell’s face is quite silly, the dialogue, written phonetically in a “funny face” dialect, sounds questionably like a genuine special-needs speech impediment when read aloud. The ending feels earnest yet reads as a bit heavy-handed, and the art features odd proportions and angular figures that are a little off-putting. The length was fine, but JJ seemed a bit checked-out throughout. This story had a creative concept and a decent theme of letting kids be kids, but it simply couldn’t save the uneven storyline.
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)