Where did Daddy's hair go?
by Joe O'Conner; illustrated by Henry Payne
The tallest mountain near me is Mt. Baldy, home of the famous Zen Center, and source of countless jokes at the expense of hairless men throughout the region. At last these beleaguered gents have a publishing niche of their own, which must be some consolation when the Rogaine fails.
Eager Jeremiah Jensen sets off to the ballpark with Daddy, whose shining pate prompts a not-nice jibe from another grown-up in the stands. Daddy makes a funny retort but little Jer can't let it go, especially when he overhears pop mention he lost his hair.
That sets off the predictable hunt for the missing locks, and some speculation on how Mr. Jensen might've turned out if his scalp had been more cooperative. Finally, a trip to the beach brings Jeremiah close to a variety of hairless heads in all their shining glory, and he decides Dad's "perfect just the way you are."
Even the art just lays there like a series of bad hair days. Payne's an editorial cartoonist for the Detroit News, and the illustrations indeed look exactly like such; the same heavy black lines and overuse of squiggles and wide cross-hatching, the same round bug eyes, the same bulb noses and basic features. There are no frills and no extras, no darting little critters or extraneous characters to follow or to develop a parallel storyline.
Maybe I should launch a screed against the MSM for clearly sucking any creativity whatsoever out of its employees even as they arrogantly think they can conquer kiddie lit (because that must be EASIER, right?) but really it's just not worth it. The guy was once a finalist for a Pulitzer, which I don't find particularly reassuring.
This is a fine Father's Day gift for the follicle-challenged, but otherwise it's a pass.