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Parallel Universes for Ages 4-8

Kids may live in their own world, but when adults compare it to their own, the parallels can be both funny and telling. Even if the books are by adults, the ironic twists give kids the upper hand in the world that adults have to fit into.

That is the clever world of Marla Frazer’s The Boss Baby (Beach Lane, $16.99, ages 4-8), which shows in words and explosive drawings just how much the baby rules the roost and gets his parents to do his will. It all rings true and is far more appropriate for the parents than the kids, except that the poor innocents don’t do their autocratic routine out of meanness, just an endearing helplessness.

Imaginative Illustrations

Matthew McElligott’s Even Monsters Need Haircuts (Walker, $14.99, ages 4-8) features a young man who sneaks out of the house at night and adopts his father’s profession as a barber, specializing in monsters’ hair, not people’s.

The illustrations make a nice gathering of familiar monsters from other kids’ books and the challenges they would present to a tonsorial professional.

Roz Chast, known for her New Yorker drawings that are often in color and take up a whole page, shows how there is so much to do flying around the world inventing things and keeping busy that there is no time for bed. The fun drawings and activities in Too Busy Marco (Atheneum, $16.99, ages 4-8) will either be too energizing to encourage sleep or too enervating to get to the end of the book. Either way, kids keep the adults guessing.

Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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