REVIEW: 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter

As Cybils editor, I see a lot of great book blogs, so I feel a bit self-conscious introducing my own. Book Buds is where I react to children’s books in the form of short- to medium-length reviews. With just enough art history learnin’ in me to cause trouble, I critique both words and pictures.

It’s not enough to say "this is cute" or "I loved the art." What does that mean? What are we looking at? And could the text succeed as well with any other artist, or none at all?

One of the most successful marriages of art and text this year is the highly conceptual, highly hilarious "17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore," about a naughty girl with a wild imagination:

The girl on the cover is the kind of willful, recidivist imp whose imaginary friends must all be nervous around her.  We start with her stapling her brother’s hair to the pillow, and it goes downhill from there. She walks backwards to school–stopping traffic–and flashes her panties and, oh dear, just about everything awful. And awfully funny.

Each page repeats,  "I had an idea to do X … I’m not allowed to do X anymore," which gets more brazen and amusing as her calculated terrors add up. The pen-and-ink characters are fully realized, including our mussy-haired protagonist, drawn with a minimalist’s attention to each stroke of the pen. They inhabit a digitally remade world of "real" artifacts refitted to the page, even down to their plastic desks or the crossing guard’s vest.

Read the rest here.

–Anne Levy, Cybils editor