A pungent pickled green caper and a delicious red lollipop are the main characters in this picture book. Can you guess which one is the villain? The Great Lollipop Caper, written and illustrated by Dan Krall, is an amusing new book that has it all – a cranky villain, a silly adorable hero, an original story with lots of funny dialogue, engaging illustrations, and well, food.
Adults appreciate the acidic earthy flavor of Mr. Caper; indeed, we see them flying out of their houses to greet Mr. Caper with enthusiasm as he walks with a peevish expression down the village street. However, the affection of grown-ups is not enough for Mr. Caper. He wants children to love him, too. But children have no taste for capers. They love sweet and yummy treats like lollipops. So what’s a self-centered caper to do? Disguised as a harmless pea, cloaked in a trench coat and dark glasses, Mr. Caper sneaks into the lollipop factory and proceeds to taint all of the candy with his sour flavor…
Just when you were dreading reading another predictable bedtime story about a lost bunny or duck, along comes a fresh children’s book that adults will get a few chuckles out of as well as children. The wacky cartoon-like illustrations by Dan Krall are appealing and add much to the story. The flyleaf of The Great Lollipop Caper shows Mr. Caper snug in the jar of capers as one would see them in the refrigerator, which helps give children who may not be familiar with capers an idea of what they look like.
When Mr. Caper contaminated all of the lollipops in the factory with his stinky flavor, he thought this would make the children fall for him, but his plan backfires as so many bad-guy schemes do. Instead of fostering an appreciation of capers, the nasty-tasting caper-lollipops turn all the children bitter and bad-tempered. We see them stumbling around, transformed into olive-tinted whirly-eyed zombies with nasty sneers by Mr. Caper’s ill-fated experiment tampering with their candy. Only the scrumptious Mr. Lollipop with his undaunted cheer and goodwill can save the day.
In the end, Mr. Caper redeems himself by recognizing what a big mistake he made. He apologizes and is forgiven by the adults who, after all, are addicted to the complex nuances of his flavor. The children are put right again, and Mr. Caper has learned an important lesson about being content with himself.
The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall is a clever book for preschoolers that adults will appreciate too. It makes a fun read-aloud with the voices of dour Mr. Caper and goofy-sweet Mr. Lollipop. I used this book as a read-aloud for a large group of preschoolers in a library story time and it was a big hit, getting lots of giggles and ending in a tussle over who got to check it out first. The Great Lollipop Caper will appeal to people of many ages, but is ideal for ages four through eight.