Once upon a time, a boy and a girl were asked to collaborate on a story. The result of their clashing styles was the hilarious 2005 picture book, Once Upon a Cool Motercycle Dude (written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley, and also illustrated by Carol Hayer and Scott Goto).
Now the fairy tale telling duel begins again, when the same two kids (and the same creative writer/illustrator team) must tell another story-- and out of their competing narratives comes Once Upon a Royal Superbaby (Bloomsbury, 2010).
Will beautiful baby Sweet Piper, friend of the birds and darling of his mother, Queen Tenderheart, survive? Or will his alter ego, heavily muscled Strong Viper, ride his motorcycle to victory?
The boy and the girl snap at each other in comic book style speech bubbles, while behind them their stories come to life (one illustrator for her, in sweet pretty style, and one for him, bolder and darker). Neither kid is at all happy, until the story takes hold of their young minds, and their imaginations work as one...(and their characters all ride off on a robotic unicorn).
This is seriously funny. It will make little kids laugh with its obvious silliness; it will make grown- up fans of fairy tales laugh with its more subtle satire (as well as its silliness).
I asked my son which narrative (Strong Viper or Sweet Piper) he preferred. He answered: "You have to have them both; otherwise it's not interesting." Truly it is the conflict between the two versions of the story that makes this so entertaining. I liked it so much that I just nominated it for the Cybils Awards in the picture book category.
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)