Thursday, February 16, 2012


By Tony Fucile

(Candlewick Press, 2009)

Bored. So bored.

Maybe it’s pouring rain on the day you’d planned to dig a hole to China. Maybe it’s dinnertime and you’re stuck at the table as Uncle Howard and Aunt Beatrice provide every detail about their visit to DoilyWood. (Please tell me there is no such place.) Maybe you’re stuck with your mom in a shoe store as she narrows things down to forty-six pairs of black high heels she’d like to try on to go with the black dress she finally picked on this same never-ending shopping excursion.

Yep. We’ve all been there. Bored.

Nothing to do. Doing nothing.

It’s all out of our control.

But author/illustrator Tony Fucile adds a twist. What if we take control and actually try to do nothing?

Frankie and Sal are best buds who embark on a quest for the zen of true nothingness. Sal’s the director. He sets the scene. Frankie is the well-intentioned boy whose overactive imagination sabotages nothing (or everything).

First up, Sal suggests they sit like statues in a park. Sit. Sit. Not a sound. Sit. Not a movement. Sit. Doing nothing is easy! But then Frankie envisions pigeons at the park, scanning the ground for worms, seeds and melting clomps from roadkill ice cream cones. (Okay, some of that arises from my imagination.) One at a time, the birds perch on one of the statues. Statue Frankie, naturally. Soon Frankie is covered by flapping, fluttering birds. How can anyone stand it?!

Ahhhh! Shoo!

Oops. Frankie did something.

Sal, of course, decides upon another scenario. And Frankie, of course, gamely joins in. Nothing happens. Until, of course, something happens.

Tony Fucile, a Disney animator, creates memorable images of the two main characters. Frankie, in particular, is endearingly drawn with a Barney Rubble tuft of blond hair, a too snug, too short shirt and prominent spectacles. The layout is also refreshing as the story begins immediately. No need to flip past a title page. That feature appears only after the text and pictures build up to Sal’s grand idea: “Let’s Do Nothing!”

This is an incredibly amusing book that everyone who has ever failed at The Silent Game will totally relate to. We like Sal and his creative scene-setting ideas, but Frankie steals the show. (Oh, and maybe Sal’s tiny dog who tunes out the boys and demonstrates what doing nothing is all about.)

Simple, yet brilliant concept. Add Fucile to the list of children’s book creators of whom I am absolutely envious.

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