Duckworth’s parents think he is a difficult child, so when a snake slides right up and swallows him whole, his parents don’t believe him! What’s poor Duckworth to do?
Duckworth is a difficult child.
At least that’s what his parents think.
So when Duckworth tries to explain that a gigantic snake slithered out of his closet, his parents insist it’s all in his head—he is far too old to be imagining such nonsense. (And will he please do his chores?) But even when the cobra slides right up and swallows Duckworth whole, his parents remain unconvinced! (Where did he find that snake costume, and will he please put it away?)
What’s poor Duckworth to do when his parents just won’t listen? With nods to the deliciously dark humor of Edward Gorey, Florence Parry Heide, and Jon Klassen, Michael Sussman and Júlia Sardà empathize with children everywhere who must find ways to deal with their difficult parents.
Duckworth has a problem: a scarlet serpent as big as a minivan is coiled in his closet, and his parents, immersed in their new copy of Dealing with Your Difficult Child, are unconcerned. Then the snake swallows Duckworth neatly, so that he can still hold a conversation. They remain unimpressed. "Where did you find that snake costume?" his father asks. After his parents share a game of checkers, a dinner, and a stroll with the snake, it's clear that Duckworth must save himself. He does, handily, and the snake exits without a fuss. Sard (Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein) creates an elegantly chilly atmosphere for Duckworth's Treehorn Trilogy esque drawing room comedy. His parents' on-trend d cor provides a perfect foil for the beast's primal energy; the house is all plinths and angles, while the snake forms a tangle of graceful, undulating curves. Sussman (Otto Grows Down) makes the most of the rib-tickling contrast between mortal danger and proper manners: "It's not a snake costume!" shouts Duckworth from inside the snake, his words rendered in tiny type to suggest muffled cries. At the end, though, Duckworth's still stuck with his parents, prompting not a laugh, but a whiff of dread. Ages 4 8. Author's agent: Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator's agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House.