cover image Amazing Grapes

Amazing Grapes

Jules Feiffer. HarperCollins/di Capua, $29.99 (296p) ISBN 978-0-06-296383-3; $21.99 paper ISBN 978-0-0629-6382-6

Siblings Shirley, Pearlie, and Curlie’s world is turned upside down when Pearlie and Curlie are whisked away by a two-headed swan to a lost dimension. Now, Shirley and Mommy must search for them in this sprawling, multiversal epic that combines extravagantly tangled narrative threads reminiscent of Everything Everywhere All at Once with the signature idiosyncratic characters of surreal works by Feiffer (Smart George). Mommy—whom the kids often caught staring out the window—realizes she was once the empress of the swans’ lost dimension, who abandoned her peacemaking duties, a revelation triggered by recalling song lyrics: “Amazing Grapes,/ How sweet to eat/ One bite/ How can it be?” The creator's first graphic novel for children is personified by a gorgeous, chaotic ballet of ink line drawings, and fourth wall–breaking characters are frequently overwhelmed by text; after a lengthy monologue, Mommy adds, “But surely, you are tired of hearing me go on?” to which her conversation partner replies, “Well... yes, I am, actually.” If readers concur, Feiffer’s sui generis comic temperament—a mix of irascibility, introspection, and longing—makes it hard to put this one down. Character skin tones match the hue of the page. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Correction: The text of this review has been updated for clarity.