You Broke It!

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In her first picture book, You Broke It! (Rise x Penguin, $18.99, 9780593660409), New Yorker cartoonist Liana Finck takes an irreverent look at the endless barrage of reprimands that parents routinely fling at their offspring—“Sit still!” or “Get the hair out of your eyes!”—and twists them in ways that will leave both parents and young children with smiles.

A different parent is featured on each spread, admonishing their young in ways that will make readers laugh out loud. The featured chastisers include various animals and natural forces. A whirling tornado tells their child, “You’re making a mess!” while a worm issues a “Stop squirming!” decree. My own favorites are the cat’s “Stop playing with your food!” to the kitten eyeing a nearby mouse, and a crocodile who warns their toothy youngster, “Stop biting!” 

Finck’s lively illustrations consist of minimalistic line drawings with one burst of muted color on each spread—a pink mouse, a blue tornado, a bit of green on a turtle. In true cartoon style, this artistic simplicity nicely focuses the reader’s attention on the irony at hand, helping kids immediately tune in to each joke without visual distractions.

You Broke It! is a book that parents and children are likely to relish and remember, especially in the midst of those inevitable nagging sessions that occur. Both young and old will enjoy poking fun at popular admonishments, and each will perhaps leave with renewed understanding about the loving aspect of such conflicts. Finck’s final pages certainly bring this message home when an octopus says, “Keep your hands to yourself!” and the child responds, “I am just being me.” With that, You Broke It! concludes with the perfect illustration: a parent and child embracing in a big octopus hug.

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