From Publishers Weekly
These three stories will interest socially savvy young adult readers—young book-worms rather than hipsters—and liberal-leaning adults who enjoy a wry laugh. The first story, which concerns a long chalk-board that gives almost magical creativity to those who use it, feels like a modern fairy tale. Instead of becoming queen, a woman becomes a great filmmaker. Instead of becoming a king, a boy gets into a prestigious university. The second, which concerns two competing children's authors who find they're better off in love, is a story New Yorkers will appreciate, with a strong vibe of Upper West Side anxiety. The third deals with a woman with a nearly magical ability to cook chili. Though Allen is listed as author, it's very much Feiffer's book: the pieces lack his bite, but they have his old charm and whimsy in spades. The art has a ballet-like quality; poise has replaced the attitude Feiffer had back when his name was synonymous with the Village Voice
. The final story has a whiff of his old stance—the fabulous chili maker is called on to make chili for a political cause, and it comes out awful. The chili cook becomes a cause célèbre, and T-shirts announce "chili shouldn't have an agenda." (Oct.)
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Renowned cartoonist and children's book author Feiffer shares billing with his wife, journalist and stand-up comedienne Allen, in a trio of charming stories for adults. "The Long Chalkboard" is about the whim of two parents who need to cover a long wall and provide a scribbling surface for their children after moving into a new home. As the home passes on to successive owners, the chalkboard becomes fertile ground for, first, a math prodigy and then a budding film director, whose storyboard sketches later hang in the Smithsonian and ultimately comfort a lonely widow. "What Happened" follows the fortunes of a stuffy children's book author who accuses a fellow writer of plagiarism, and "Judy's Wonder Chili" recounts the misadventures of an amateur chef whose deliciously healing chili undergoes an unpleasant transformation when it catches the attention of the media and politicians. Allen's insightful, uplifting tales are perfectly complemented by Feiffer's wry charcoal, pencil, and wash sketches, which imbue the collection with the flavor of contemporary fables. Carl HaysCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved