In search of the surreal
The latest book by Tony Millionaire is strange. The title character of Billy Hazelnuts is a Frankensteinian boy assembled by rats out of garbage, houseflies and mint. He and the young lady of the house, brainy Becky, set out to rescue the moon (which has disappeared over the horizon). They're pursued by one of Becky's suitors, a mad scientist in a galleon captained by mutinous robotic bird skeletons and seeing-eye skunks. Yep. Billy's an odd but well-spoken little beast; unsuccessfully interviewing falling stars about the moon's location, he protests, "These blasted celestials can't even get a story out before they explode in a flash of fire!" It all takes place in Millionaire's creepy sock-monkey universe, with its dizzying lines and button eyes and jam-packed black-and-white panels. His ever-shifting landscapes seem free of gravity, and outer space is always visible just beyond rooftops.