Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
An import from France, this picture book has a wonderful quirkiness. It is the story of Leon, a lizard, who is having a lovely morning, eating breakfast, sitting in the sun, and then he has to go to the bathroom. But after he goes poo, he discovers that he’s out of toilet paper. He looks around, but only sees prickly leaves and messy grass. Until he discovers pair of old underpants hanging on a nearby branch. They are full of holes anyway, so he uses them to wipe and tosses them away. But that’s when a loud voice, his conscience, starts to talk to him and tells him to clean them up and hang them up to dry. In the end, his conscience turns out to be something else entirely and the grand twist of the tale adds to the merriment of the book.
Escoffier is a popular author in France and this book marks his debut into the American market. His humor is spot on for young readers who will adore the idea of what this lizard does for toilet paper. They will not see the ending coming, since it is fresh and completely surprising. In the end, the twist will delight readers even more than the original joke.
Di Giacomo is the illustrator of My Dad Is Big & Strong, BUT… and I am very pleased to see another of her picture books come to English translation. Her art is a fabulous blend of paint, crayon, fine lines and texture. She uses blots of color as the leaves, something that is surprising but works very well.
Share this with all of those children who love something a little naughty in their picture books. If you share it with a group, you will most likely be asked to read it over again. Also, expect riotous reactions to the humor. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.