- The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe by Stephanie Simpson McLellan
Trade ed. ISBN 9781771473934 $17.95
Reviewed from digital galleys R 4–8 yrs
Timothy spends much of his young life either getting into trouble or apologizing for it. The regret-filled missives he composes at his father’s insistence follow the letter, but never the spirit, of sincere apology. Each contains a caveat (sorrow for insulting Aunt Gladys’ gift of an ugly sweater redirects blame on Dad for telling Timothy to always tell the truth) or a masterpiece of passive aggression (chagrin over calling Dad an unspecified but undoubtedly ill-chosen name is followed by generously forgiving Dad for “wrecking my morning”). Accidents and poor judgment eventually escalate into mayhem when Timothy and a handful of marbles take down his sisters’ ballet recital, jolting him at last into a heartfelt rapprochement with his loving father and even a seriocomic effort at atonement. Si’s line and watercolor–styled cartoon art and giggle-inducing hand-lettered apology notes capture the damages done vis à vis the contrition on offer, making any bitter pill of self-awareness on viewers’ part go down a bit more easily. Kids not quite ready for Annie Barrows’ longer chapter book for the remorse-impaired, The Best of Iggy (BCCB 12/19), can tackle this witty morality tale in the interim.