Junior Kroll had a date
With Grandfather Kroll to celebrate
New Year’s Eve, home alone,
Just two guys on their own …
Junior Kroll. By Betty Paraskevas. Illustrated by Michael Paraskevas. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 36 pp., varied prices.
By Janice Harayda
In the realm of picture books, New Year’s Eve is an outcast, perhaps because publishers think that 4-to-8-year-olds should be in bed by the time the fun starts. And yet, young children often do celebrate the day, either in their own way or their parents’.
The pizza arrived along with the sleet
That tapped on the windows and danced on the street.
In paper derbies they watched TV,
And they dined with the king of comedy.
Other poems in Junior Kroll have a rhythm just as lively, and though they are about people with money, they aren’t materialistic: They celebrate warm and often amusing ties to family and friends. Junior Kroll cheers up an ailing neighbor in “The Old Lady Who Lived Down the Lane.” And in “The Thanksgiving Day Guest,” he gets to know his mother’s perhaps underappreciated great-aunt Flo:
She told him of traveling to Istanbul
On the Orient Express,
Long ago when women reporters
Were rare with United Press.
Junior Kroll was popular and well-reviewed when it first appeared more than a decade ago, so it’s easy to find online and in libraries if not in bookstores, and it’s worth tracking down in the new year if you can’t find it by the time you break out the noisemakers on Monday night. “The Thanksgiving Day Guest” ends with Flo’s departure on the day after the feast:
The next morning her cab was waiting
Under a cold gray sky.
From the doorway Mrs. Kroll watched Junior kiss
A remarkable old lady good-bye.
Published: 1993 (first hardcover edition)
Furthermore: The adventures of Junior Kroll appeared in comic-strip form in East Hampton’s Dan’s Papers and in Hemisphere magazine on United Airlines. Betty and Michael Paraskevas are a mother-and-son team who have written more than a dozen books and produced several animated television series en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Paraskevas. They created the Tangerine Bear, the subject of two poems in Junior Kroll and an ABC home video Christmas special.
© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.