The Liszts

The Liszts, a rather sober lot, make lists. Lists of ghastly illnesses, small winged insects and shades of black. Indeed, "They made lists in winter, spring, summer, fall. They made lists every day except Sundays, which were listless."

The youngest child, Frederick, makes lists of fun things to do, such as drawing the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The oldest, Winifred, is fond of "top ten lists" (#1 on her cheese list is Roquefort). The middle child, Edward, makes 31-page lists "to quiet the swirl of his midnight mind." One day a large adult visitor who, inexplicably, is carrying a bouquet of helium balloons, enters the Liszts' stately home through the open front door and tells Mama, "I'm here." He's not on her list, so she can't be bothered. The visitor tells Papa--and almost everyone else--"I'm here"--with similar results. But when he finally approaches Edward, the boy greets him with a shy "Hi." Edward has a list of questions, and so does the visitor; between them their questions fill three pages with handwritten capital letters. Visitor: "HOW DO I KNOW MY LIFE IS NOT A DREAM?" and "WHERE ARE MY PANTS?" Edward: "DOES ANYONE OWN THE MOON OR THE SKY?" and "WHY AM I RIGHT-HANDED?"

The Liszts, by Toronto resident Kyo Maclear (Julia, Child), is a welcome reminder to stay open to the unexpected, and Barcelona resident Júlia Sardà's lovely, surprise-filled, comical, autumnally hued illustrations could not be more perfectly suited to the story. Fans of Edward Gorey's The Doubtful Guest (also about an uninvited guest who never, ever leaves) should immediately add this delightful book to their list. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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