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The Terrible Underpants

New or Used: 2 copies from $26.99
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About the Author

Kaz Cooke is a writer and cartoonist widely known in Australia for her humorous commentaries on modern life. She is a newspaper columnist and a broadcaster as well as the author of many adult titles - including The Little Book of Stress and The Rough Guide to Pregnancy


K-Gr 2-Wanda-Linda has a predicament-no clean underwear! At her mother's insistence she puts on a dingy, worn-out, baggy, patched, and juice-stained pair under her dress and heads off with her pet wombat to school. In an every-child's-nightmare series of situations, the wind, a stint on the monkey bars, a leap over the sprinkler, and a handstand conspire to reveal the tattered undies to neighbors, schoolmates, family, and even the world. In the too-abrupt ending, she simply takes off the offending garment and hangs it from a tree branch as she sips tea with her wombat. The blocky, cartoon illustrations feature bold contrasting colors in an edgy, minimalist, almost childlike style. Although the book has a child's-eye perspective throughout (her parents are seen only as legs or arms heading out of or into the pictures), Wanda-Linda's verbal responses occasionally display an adult's dry sophistication that seems out of place in the story. An author's note cautions that wombats are not really pets but wild animals, and suggests conservation organizations for kids to contact. While the story has some funny moments, kids may feel more embarrassed for than humored by Wanda-Linda's overall (or underall) dilemma. Undies aficionados may want to stick with Todd Parr's Underwear Do's and Don'ts (2000), Marc Brown's Arthur's Underwear (1999, both Little, Brown), or Mary Monsell's Underwear! (Albert Whitman, 1988).-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha's Public Library, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Wanda-Linda and Glenda!... It's time to get dressed," calls Wanda-Linda's father (Glenda is "a hairy-nosed wombat [who] hardly ever gets dressed"). But the girl's knickers are all on the clothesline. "How about these?" asks Mom. "Oh, no! Not the terrible underpants!" Australian author/artist Cooke delineates the Terrible Underpants' considerable shortcomings in a mock-serious diagram in dreary gray and grape tones: the features of the "Front View" include "stretched out elastic," "juice stain" and "hole," while the rear view indicates one side as "very baggy" and the other as "very, very baggy." When her father suggests that no one will notice the horrid pair she wears, plucky Wanda-Linda sets out to prove him wrong. With orange hair in a Laura Petrie flip and Glenda at her side, the girl flashes her underpants at a gasping Mrs. Kafoops from down the street and Wanda-Linda's playground peers, yet she never loses her maniacal smile. She appears to relish being an underwear bte noire. Then, in a development that makes perfect sense in Cooke's off-kilter, fluorescent world, Wanda-Linda does a handstand, and "Somebody in a helicopter took a picture and put it on TV. And everybody in the whole world saw the Terrible Underpants" (inside, father sees it on the tube). This loopy tale should give youngsters a long and satisfyingly naughty giggle. Ages 4-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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