Review of On Account of the Gum

On Account of the Gum
by Adam Rex; illus. by the author
Primary    Chronicle    56 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-4521-8154-7    $17.99

Shown wordlessly before the title page, our unnamed protagonist is in a sticky situation after falling asleep while chewing gum. Upon awakening, and after that unpleasant discovery, the child’s ­gum-removal process begins, starting with scissors — which, whoops, get stuck to the gum, still in the hair. The ­narrator is offstage, but the advice is ­in-your-face, and progressively, hilariously, ­outrageous. There’s an offbeat rhythm to the ­sometimes-rhyming text that, likewise, keeps listeners guessing. “We went on some websites. / And all of them swear / if you want to get scissors / and gum out of hair / you take two sticks of butter / and smear them along, // I see. / It appears that those / websites were wrong.” The humor is in the page-turn (pre- and post-butter, for example); and the anticipation of what method the family will try next, shown in the unfailingly entertaining colorful and textured caricature illustrations centered on the wide-eyed child. Finally the kid has had enough — “STOP! GET OUT! Please,” says the text, in bubble gum–­looking speech balloons — leading to one of the problems being solved on this, a most important day. A rollicking cumulative tale that many listeners will want to choose and re-chew-se.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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