Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let's Do Nothing

Written and illustrated by Tony Fucile

Candlewick Press, 2009

$16.99, ages 4-8

Best buddies Sal and Frankie are game for just about anything, but when they run out of stuff to do, they attempt to do nothing at all and find with hilarious results that keeping their minds blank is impossible.

Having played every sport invented and every board game they could find, Sal and Frankie can't imagine what to do next. So they plunk down on the floor and Sal, the bellwether of the two, suggests they stop talking. "All right," submits Frankie flat on his back. "Ten seconds of nothing," to which Sal sits up as if he was spring-loaded. "That's it!" he declares, now on his feet like a showman about to belt out a tune. Beside him the title page announces, "Let's Do Nothing."

But doing nothing proves difficult for Frankie, whose imagination never slows down.

When Sal suggests they pretend to be statues in a park, imaginary pigeons perch all over Frankie and he flails his arms to shoo them away. So Sal tries again: "We'll be two giant redwood trees. You can do that." Always game, Frankie chimes back, "I can do that." But then an imaginary dog lifts his leg on Frankie the tree to go to the bathroom and Frankie the boy flies off the chair.

Sal's patience is thinning, but he's still not giving up. "You know the Empire State Building in New York?," he asks "You are it!" he encourages. No pigeon or dog can upset this plan, he adds. But what's that giant furry hand with an opposable thumb reaching up from below Frankie? King Kong has a grip on Frankie's tower and he's snatched off his glasses.

OK, reacts Sal, time for a new plan.

This time Frankie lays down on the floor as Sal piles building blocks on his body. No moving, no breathing, no blinking, Sal orders. But as Frankie screams for his friend's attention, Sal's frustration with Frankie boils over. But good friends that they are, their run-in lasts only a moment when inspiration hits. "That's it!" Sal beams. "We figured it out!...There's no way to do nothing! ...Let's do something!"

Any child who's ever found themselves sighing, "I don't know what to do," will laugh themselves silly reading Fucile's first children's book and after they're done might just fly off their chair and do something too.

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