Milo the magician is a mess. Not only does he botch his card tricks and tangle his rope tricks, but he can't even manage the old standby: pulling a rabbit from a hat. Spurred on by his manager's fury, Milo heads out of the city to find himself a rabbit. Dangling a carrot over his top hat, our magnificent magician captures... a bear. Here is where his luck turns. As it happens, this particular bear is adept at jumping into hats: "You just pretend your bones are made of rubber," he says. "It's a secret I learned from a rabbit." Returning to the city, (after a brief mix-up on the subway), the two quickly become a smash sensation. But after popping in and out of 762 hats, the bear is positively pooped. Can Milo carry on without his rubber-boned buddy?
Jon Agee illustrates his eccentric story with strange yet wonderful illustrations of blank-eyed, big-nosed, redheaded Milo in too-short trousers, and the cavalier, hat-hopping bear. Perfect comedic timing and a nutty plot ensure that readers of all ages will adore this tale of a misfit's triumph. (Ages 3 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
With marvelously economical narration and line drawings, Agee (The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau) conjures a formidable tale of a struggling magician. Milo could be Little Orphan Annie's uncle or a caricature of John Lennon. His brick-red mop of hair and thick mustache bracket pupil-less eyes and a voluminous nose, and a too-tight gray suit adds to his hangdog appearance. Onstage, he's no Houdini. He doesn't even have a rabbit for his act, and in trying to catch one (by dangling a carrot from a stick), he attracts a brown bear. This incident provides the absurd turning point of the story, for the immense animal executes a flawless dive into Milo's top hat ("You just pretend your bones are made of rubber. It's a secret I learned from a rabbit," the bear explains). Sitcom developments follow: the bear nonchalantly agrees to perform, Milo loses his furry friend on the train and the top hat walks the New York City streets on two clawed feet. Agee sets off the delectably far-fetched story line with pared-down charcoal-and-watercolor illustrations, and the strong planes and diagonals of his cityscapes recall Ben Katchor's comics. Understated writing complements the surreal images; when the hat finally reaches the theater, "Milo whistled and out popped the bear. `Boy,' said the bear, `am I glad to see you!'" In this accomplished book, Agee's plot twists are as surprising as, well, pulling a bear out of a hat. Ages 3-up.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.