- Naked! by Michael Ian Black
From the opening spread (“Naked!” cries a boy in a bubble bath), this latest offering from the partnership of Black and Ohi (I’m Bored, BCCB 10/12) is an all-out celebration of the joys of being a kid. The initial jubilation comes as the post-bath boy gallops around the house stark naked, speculating on other ideal spots for nakedness (“I should dress like this all the time. I could go to school naked. Play on the playground naked”). When Mom approaches with an armful of laundry, the boy resists—“Who needs pants? Or shirts or shoes or capes”—before realizing the potential of that final thought—“Wait. . . . Capes???” He then rejoices in the perfect combination of nakedness and capedness (“Eating another cookie mostly naked but also caped!”), before inevitably ending up cold and all-out exhausted, noodled on a very patient mother’s shoulder as she carries him to bed. The point of view is spot-on here, and the little boy protagonist is entirely lovable in his unadulterated elation. The text, all in our hero’s voice, effusively conveys his energy, and the progression from bursting at the seams (or absence thereof) with enthusiasm [End Page 563] to being completely, undeniably beat will be familiar to parents of animated little people. The digitally rendered illustrations, thick linocut-like borders and smooth planes of color with occasional texturing, match the energy of the story, and the mop-headed boy’s expressions are sweetly effervescent. Full frontals are cleverly obstructed throughout, and the variety of angles and perspectives (viewed from above, behind, at a distance, up close) lend visual interest. This is a story that begs to be read aloud and delighted over by young and old alike.