May 27, 2021

(++++) HOW-TO TIME

How to Draw a Bunny and Other Cute Creatures with Simple Shapes in 5 Steps. By Lulu Mayo. Andrews McMeel. $12.99.

The Girl’s Guide to Building a Fort: Outdoor + Indoor Adventures for Hands-on Girls. By Jenny Fieri. Illustrations by Alexis Seabrook. Andrews McMeel. $14.99.

     Lulu Mayo’s latest showcase of cute cartooning is filled with yet another bunch of the adorable critters in which Mayo specializes – and it is just as much fun as her earlier books, and just as simple to follow and use as the basis for learning a certain kind of drawing. It is amazing to see how easily Mayo transforms circles, ovals, triangles and other simple shapes into adorable-looking animals of all sorts – and the process really is easy enough for young would-be artists to follow. Mayo’s books are participatory: a typical left-hand page goes through the “5 steps” referred to in the book’s subtitle but is subdivided into six areas, the sixth left blank except for words at the bottom in which Mayo urges, “Draw yours,” “Your turn,” or “Have a go!” The left-hand-page encouragement emerges on the right-hand page as something bigger, with Mayo providing a small amount of drawing and leaving plenty of white space for young artists to use in following her suggestions: “Draw more plump guinea pigs here. Try starting with various shapes to create different guinea pig poses.” Or: “Use these shapes to create your own llama band. Can you draw a llama playing a tambourine?” That llama-with-tambourine idea is typical of the amusing, offbeat and, yes, cute notions found throughout How to Draw a Bunny and Other Cute Creatures. The way Mayo explains and dissects the elements of these drawings encourages budding artists to try creations of their own while at the same time showing, again and again, how the basic raw materials of pencil plus easy-to-draw shapes can be used in a wide variety of different ways. “Scribble a crescent nest,” for example, starts a page on birds and eggs, which then shows how the eggs themselves are ovals, the birds have teardrop-shaped bodies and triangular beaks, and their wings are little hearts (an especially sweet touch). Nothing here is intended to be realistic: everything is exaggerated and often mildly humorous. One endearing lesson is called “Raccoon Rabbit” and results in a plump raccoon disguised as a bunny – followed by a “yoga raccoon,” an especially funny “floppy raccoon,” a suggestion for a “dumpling-shaped raccoon,” and more. Then there are notions such as “Groundhog Muffin” (a “wobbly oval and rounded rectangle” for the muffin, with a groundhog poking out of the muffin top), a “Dino Egg” with a smiling baby dinosaur just breaking through, and a “Chocolate Bunny” who adorably asks, “You’ll never eat me, will you?” There is nothing serious here, but plenty that is self-indulgent in terms of adorableness – an entire book whose sole focus is showing how to create cartoon art of the most accessible and amusing sort.

     The ambitions are much broader in The Girl’s Guide to Building a Fort, which, despite its title, is not a girl’s guide to building a fort. Jenny Fieri’s book is divided into six activity sections aimed at giving girls a potpourri of ideas and projects of various types – ones selected by the author but not connected to each other in any particular way. This means that the book will really be useful and enjoyable only for girls who happen to share Fieri’s notions of enjoyable things to do and experiences to have – or some of those notions, anyway. The first section, for example, is called “Let’s Be Scientists!” (Each section has an exclamatory title.) Among its elements are the names of clouds and stars, a section on wind (with a make-your-own-turbine activity), “The Ten Birds You Need to Know,” and a paper-airplane project. In the birds section, for instance, Fieri talks about “the ten most common birds you might spot,” but omits ones that the Audubon Society says are among the most common (house sparrow, black-billed magpie, Northern mockingbird) while including the ruby-throated hummingbird, which is not even in Audubon’s top 20. Furthermore, the birds in Fieri’s book are described but not pictured – and in fact the decisions on Alexis Seabrook’s contribution seem rather quirky. In the “Trailblazers” section, in one example among many, “Five Knots and How to Use Them” shows the knots but does not illustrate the steps needed to tie them – and the verbal instructions are really not enough. Fieri’s other sections focus on Athletes, Artists, Builders, and Chefs; and in each of them, the included elements are highly personal ones, based on the author’s particular interests. “Builders” does include some generally useful information on sanding, painting and hammering nails, and this is where there is one page on building a fort, “indoors and out,” but “Chefs” contains only a few recipes and focuses on vegetable gardening, herbs, the history of the metric system, and “The Perfect Provisions for Adventures.” Certainly The Girl’s Guide to Building a Fort is well-intentioned and contains some useful and even intriguing information and projects (among which are “DIY Botanical Bookmarks” and “Five Poems to Recite Outside” in the “Artists” section). But the mishmash of included material and the uncertain value of the illustrations make this a (+++) book that will be fun for girls and families that happen to resonate to Fieri’s tastes, but that will fall flat for anyone with even slightly different interests – including anyone who wants, perhaps, more than one page out of 224 on building a fort.


Marcel Poot: Symphonies Nos. 1-7. BRTN Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Rotman (No. 1); Belgian National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Franz André (No. 2); Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Frédéric Devreese (Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 7); Antwerp Philharmonic conducted by Léonce Gras (No. 4). Naxos. $23.99 (2 CDs).

     There are stories aplenty about composers so driven to create music that they overcame all sorts of adversity and objections in their compelling inner need to express themselves through instruments and voices. There are far fewer tales of composers who came to the craft only reluctantly, being, as it were, dragged into creativity. But that was the case with Belgian composer Marcel Poot (1901-1988), whose father directed the Royal Flemish Theatre and was quite determined to have his son make music his career. Marcel was less than enthusiastic, describing himself as “very mediocre” at the art and “less apt than my young friends” at playing the instruments he studied, first the clarinet and then the piano.

     Despite this less-than-promising, less-than-enthusiastic beginning, Poot eventually attended the Brussels and Antwerp Conservatories and even studied for a time with Paul Dukas. He became a commentator on music – a critic and reviewer – and a teacher, before eventually settling into composing and, as it turned out, doing quite well.

     Among Poot’s major works are no fewer than seven symphonies, which span most of his life: 1929 to 1982. They are an intriguing amalgam of the old and the new: mostly tonal but well aware of 20th-century compositional norms, they are all in the old-fashioned three-movement form dating back to the 18th-century days when symphonies were the same as sinfonias and the four-or-more-movement arrangement was not yet standardized. But within individual movements, Poot often creates a sort of sub-movement so that a single designated portion of the symphony really represents two – not an entirely original approach (concepts such as a scherzo within a slow movement had been around for some time), but one handled by Poot with consistent skill.

     Poot’s music is not well-known outside Belgium, and the new two-CD Naxos cycle of his symphonies is the first ever: these are, in fact, the first releases of recordings of Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7. The recordings themselves are scarcely new, having been made between 1960 and 1996. Symphony No. 4 is an analog recording from 1971 – the work itself had been written the previous year. And Symphony No. 2 is a real curiosity: the recording is a monophonic one made by Belgian Radio in 1960, led by the conductor to whom the work was dedicated when it was written in 1937 Franz André (1893-1975). Two of the other three conductors represented here have also died: Frédéric Devreese (1929-2020) and Léonce Gras (1908-1993), although Hans Rotman (born 1954) remains alive and well.

     So this collection of Poot’s symphonic oeuvre is unusual in many ways – none of which matters if the music is worthy. And so it is, even if nothing here constitutes an undiscovered masterpiece. Symphony No. 1 (1929) mixes near-Mozartian lightness with interesting touches of xylophone, glockenspiel and other percussion, and shows clear influences of jazz and the movie music that accompanied silent films during the 1920s. No. 2 (1937) – whose remastering sounds fine, although it is odd to hear this mono recording amid the stereo ones – opens with a forward-striding movement whose second, almost trivial theme, taken from a children’s song, makes for an odd contrast with the more-dramatic material. The work has a tranquil second movement and a finale that opens in an aura of mystery and then becomes forceful. No. 3 (1952) is Poot’s longest symphony, even though it lasts only about 25 minutes. It is more distinctive stylistically than the first two, with an opening movement that both begins and ends slowly, a second movement of genuine emotion (rather oddly marked Andante funerale), and a strongly assured finale.

     Poot’s last four symphonies were composed at four-year intervals: No. 4 in 1970, No. 5 in 1974, No. 6 in 1978, and No. 7 in 1982. No. 4 is a work of strong contrasts: between the first and second themes and their respective development in the first movement, between the calmer and more-animated sections in the second, and between solo and tutti passages in the finale (which ends particularly animatedly). No. 5 has an unusual opening sound – horns above ostinato strings – that evaporates within a minute into brief, gentle lyricism, after which strongly accented and calmer sections intermingle. The second movement is melancholic rather than tragic at the start, becoming more animated later before subsiding into a cello solo; and the finale offers a series of alternating solo and tutti sections. No. 6 opens boldly and then moves with considerable assurance through a series of changes of tempo, dynamics and instrumentation. It has an atmospheric slow movement that is gloomier than its Andante maestoso tempo would indicate. The finale has the definite feeling of a scherzo about it (it is actually marked Allegro scherzando), and finishes with a particularly zippy Presto. No. 7, which at 16 minutes’ length is Poot’s shortest symphony, shows the composer retaining his inventiveness and cementing his particular stylistic characteristics in his 80s. Now-familiar elements of Poot’s symphonic approach reappear here, from the use of ostinato passages to the significance of percussion; but Poot uses them with the highest degree of assurance yet – for example, a timpani solo in the first movement and a clarinet-viola-flute combination in the second stand out. The finale is attractively labeled Allegro impetuoso and does in fact have an impetuous quality, plus an interesting use of a solo trombone above bassoon and bass clarinet. This is Poot’s most inventively orchestrated symphony, but it retains many elements of his characteristic style, including the finale’s crescendo and the Presto at the very end. This cycle of Poot’s symphonies shows quite clearly that whatever reluctance the composer may originally have had to make music his career had long since dissipated by the time he came to develop his own symphonic style – and then refine it successfully through more than five decades.


Hafliði Hallgrímsson: Klee Sketches, Op. 32, Books One and Two; Offerto (in memoriam Karl Kvaran), Op. 13. Peter Sheppard Skærved, violin. Métier. $17.99.

Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1, 2 and 4, arranged for bass clarinet. Joshua Ranz, bass clarinet. Navona. $14.99.

Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13; Clara Schumann: Piano Sonata in G Minor. Inna Faliks, piano. MSR Classics. $14.95.

Ensueños de Cuba (Daydreams of Cuba). Elena Casanova, piano. MSR Classics. $14.95.

     Since Icelandic composer Hafliði Hallgrímsson (born 1941) is also a fine cellist, it would be reasonable to expect string-solo music by him to focus on the cello. But a new Métier CD with Peter Sheppard Skærved instead features the solo violin – and shows Hallgrímsson to be quite adept in writing for it. There are two multi-movement suites here called Klee Sketches, both dedicated to Skærved and both showing  fine command of the violin’s solo capabilities – along with some rather esoteric tone-painting and equally abstruse wit and humor. Hallgrímsson’s musical sound here is approachable and often genuinely interesting, although some familiarity with the art of Paul Klee (1879-1940) is certainly needed to get the full flavor of movements with titles such as “Klee Experimenting with a New Scale,” “Do Not Neglect Your Pizzicato Herr Klee,” “Klee Sounds Out an Etching He Is Contemplating,” and “Klee Entertaining Kandinsky” – that movement referring to Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), who, along with Klee, was one of the artistic group known as Die Blaue Vier (“The Blue Four”). Hallgrímsson clearly draws inspiration from Klee’s very personal stylistic mixture of cubism, surrealism and expressionism, and seems to have no trouble producing 15 movements (between the two solo-violin suites) with references (admittedly sometimes oblique) to Klee – who, it is worth noting, himself created some 9,000 works, leaving plenty for Hallgrímsson to be inspired by. The two Klee suites are interestingly complemented by the earlier (1991) Offerto (in memoriam Karl Kvaran), which Hallgrímsson created in memory of his friend, an artist who lived from 1924 to 1989. Unlike Klee, Kvaran is not internationally known, but interestingly, Hallgrímsson’s four-movement Kvaran memorial suite speaks more directly and universally than do his more-rarefied Klee Sketches. The movement titles in Offerto are not entirely reflective of the music’s sound, but do show the contemplative nature of the material: “Written in Sand,” “Lines without Words,” “The Flight of Time,” and “Almost a Hymn.” Skærved plays all the material on this disc knowingly, idiomatically and expressively, emphasizing now the music’s dissonant and overtly “modern” elements, now its more-lyrical and emotional ones. Hallgrímsson’s music is something of an acquired taste, but this release shows it to be interesting and involving enough to be worthwhile for more people to acquire.

     The cello is also central to, yet absent from, a new Navona disc featuring Joshua Ranz on bass clarinet. Ranz, perhaps quixotically, has arranged three of Bach’s suites for solo cello for his own instrument, and the results are – well, odd. It has often been said that Bach’s music has such perfection and purity that it can be played with equal effect on any instrument, and Ranz’s arrangements and performances certainly put that assertion to the test. The clarinet itself is an instrument of wide range, with considerable warmth and depth in its low chalumeau register, but the bass clarinet is a darker and expressively more-limited instrument. It comes across quite well in the Sarabande of the first suite, for example, but somewhat more awkwardly in the two Minuets that follow, as well as in the concluding Gigue, which Ranz tries hard to make jaunty but which actually sounds a bit off-balance. The disc stays in the major key after the first, G major suite – No. 4 is in E-flat – and here the opening Prelude is particularly impressively played, although again it is the fourth-movement Sarabande that fits the tonal and emotive qualities of the bass clarinet best. Suite No. 2, in D minor, concludes the CD and is particularly intriguing for the way its moods complement the capabilities of the bass clarinet – which Ranz plays especially well here, notably in the very deepest notes, which have substantial resonance. The speedy Courante of this suite nearly over-matches the instrument, although yet again the Sarabande that follows it is especially impressive. The Gigue that ends this suite and the entire disc neatly sums up the pluses and minuses of the whole endeavor: it is rhythmic and very well-played, but lacks the bounce that it has on the cello, and the wider leaps sound a trifle awkward. This is certainly an interesting way to hear some familiar Bach music, and clarinetists are sure to enjoy it: there was no bass clarinet in Bach’s time, but as an experiment in what-might-have-been, Ranz’s arrangements of these suites are impressively unusual.

     One instrument with a longstanding association with multiple forms of expressiveness is the piano, and just how far pianistic moods stretch can be seen, or rather heard, on two recent releases from MSR Classics. Inna Faliks offers attentive, nuanced and beautifully balanced readings of major works by both Schumanns, Robert and Clara, on a CD titled “The Schumann Project, Volume 1” – implying that there are more such juxtapositions to come. They will be most welcome if they continue in the same vein as this initial disc. Clara’s G minor sonata dates to 1841-42, but she never played it in public and, indeed, neither did anyone else. It was not published until as recently as 1991. The very short third-movement Scherzo did turn up in her Quatre Pièces Fugitives, Op. 15, but the rest of the work lay fallow. This is not a great sonata or evidence of Clara’s full development as a composer – in fact, her development in that vein remained arrested throughout her lifetime as she focused on performance and on promoting Robert’s music. However, the sonata is quite well-constructed, its first movement being the most broadly conceived and its second, slow movement hinting at emotional connections that it is somewhat too short to convey fully. The little Scherzo and brisk concluding Rondo are pleasant if somewhat superficial; the work as a whole breaks no new ground, but certainly shows Clara’s ability to create music that is worthwhile both to perform and to hear. Nevertheless, Robert’s Symphonic Etudes dominates Faliks’ disc. Largely in variation form – but in the sense of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, within which the theme is often so transformed as to disappear almost completely – the Symphonic Etudes hark back to Bach in their polyphony and use of canonic effects, while existing fully within the Romantic era through their extended exploration of technique and of the piano’s ability to become a Lisztian “orchestra in miniature.” Like most pianists today, Faliks includes the five posthumously published etudes along with the original 12, placing the first two after Etude III, the third after Etude V, the fourth after Etude VIII, and the fifth just before the finale (Etude XII). This arrangement works well, and the inclusion of the posthumous material broadens the scope of this already-large work even further, resulting in a performance lasting 34 minutes and exploring, within that time frame, pretty much all the ups and downs, ins and outs that intrigued Robert early in his career. The Symphonic Etudes date to 1834, when Robert was 24 and not yet involved with Clara – in fact, in the year of this work’s composition, he had been engaged to Ernestine von Fricken, making her Estrella in his Carnaval. And it was her father who created the theme on which most of the etudes are based. There will surely be more obscure-but-fascinating biographical connections of this sort as Faliks continues juxtaposing works by Robert and Clara – and hopefully playing them with as much understanding and skill as she brings to these two.

     The piano can, of course, express moods through miniatures as well as large-scale pieces – in fact, some of the attraction of the Symphonic Etudes and similar works comes from their use of small-scale pieces that, in totality, become part of a larger canvas, the whole being more than the sum of its parts. In some piano music, though, small pieces are entirely self-contained and are designed to encapsulate just one feeling, attitude or thought. Elena Casanova offers a heaping helping of them on a disc called Ensueños de Cuba, which has no fewer than 44 tracks lasting 70 minutes – meaning the average piece here is just about a minute and a half long. Yet the works are quite evocative within their limited time span – and all of them speak of Cuba, its history and turmoil and beauty and grace and above all its dances. Casanova was born in Cuba, and for her this recital is a tribute to her homeland – but for anyone of any background, it will evoke feelings of nostalgia and memory even if the specific memories Casanova celebrates through this material are not a listener’s own. The composers here will scarcely be household names for a wide audience, with some of them so obscure that not even their birth and death years are known. They include Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), perhaps the best-known; Miguel Faílde Pérez (1852-1921); Pedro Garcia (dates unknown); Silvano Boudet (1828-1863); José Fernández de Coca (dates unknown); Gaspar D. Villate (1851-1891); Felipe B. Valdés (dates unknown); Jorge Anckermann (1877-1941); Enrique Guerrero (1818-1887); Manuel Saumell (1818-1870); Maria Matilde Alea (1903-1989); Maria Emma Botet (1903-?); Harold Gramatges (1918-2008); Andres Alen (born 1950); Cesar Perez Sentenat (1896-1973); and Rene Touzet (1916-2003). Their works are quite different, but are united in this recital by their encapsulation within a very short time span of a single feeling, desire, emotion or hope. Sometimes the time of a work is very short: Botet’s four Dancitas de Ayer last a total of two-and-a-half minutes – all four combined. Saumell’s Seis Contradanzas are somewhat lengthier, their total time being 12 minutes, but again they give the impression of being here and gone quickly, leaving only a wisp of melody and feeling behind. The longest work on the disc, 19 minutes, is Alea’s Miniaturas Ritmicas Cubanas No. 2, but in keeping with the approach of the entire CD, it contains no fewer than 17 movements. Casanova plays the whole disc with nicely understated technique, bringing out emotions without laying them on too thickly, allowing the composers’ evocations of Cuba to flow naturally and pleasantly from one to the next. The material may be a bit much for non-Cubans to sit through from start to finish: there is a degree of repetitiveness in the evoked feelings and, to some extent, in the style of some pieces from similar time periods. But it is perfectly possible to dip into the disc for a while, go do something else, and return to it to pick up where you left off – resuming an evocative musical program that shows the piano’s ability to bring forth a pleasantly nostalgic set of thoughts, feelings and moods.

May 20, 2021

(++++) GAMING

Bunny! Don’t Play with Your Food. By Paul Schmid. Andrews McMeel. $8.99.

Escape Book: Madam Mortell’s Haunted House. By Arthur Ténor. Andrews McMeel. $9.99.

Fall Guys: The Unofficial Guide to Staying on Top. By Stéphane Pilet. Andrews McMeel. $9.99.

     There’s a whole new meaning to “playing with food” in Paul Schmid’s delightful board book about a little bunny and a scrumptious carrot. The cover gives a hint of what is to come: the carrot is on a plate and has two punctures that clearly reflect Bunny’s vampire teeth, which protrude from his mouth and are carrot-colored at the bottom and white at the top. Schmid makes the point extra-clear by showing Bunny wearing a traditional Dracula cape. Clearly, this is not a book about “playing with food” in the sense of pushing little bits of it around on a plate or stacking and smushing mashed potatoes. Bunny has an absolutely wonderful imagination, or rather Schmid does on Bunny’s behalf. One page has an orange Bunny with black stripes (“Tiger Bunny”) racing down toward a pool of water to pounce on “the tasty Carrotpotamus.” Another shows green, lurching Bunny the Zombie as he “creeps towards the poor, helpless carrot.” There is also Bunny the Wolf, who “gobbles Little Orange Riding Hood!” These and other off-the-wall concepts make Bunny! Don’t Play with Your Food an absolutely marvelous book for pre-readers and very early readers – a book that will likely fire young kids’ imagination and help them come up with their own versions of playing with food. Hmm. Oops.

     For older kids, to whom video game-playing is the norm, today’s game-related books fall into several categories. One approach is the choose-your-path book, which sort of offers a video-game-ish experience by giving readers alternative places to go in order to gain treasure or points or something along those lines – or, by choosing the wrong places to go, leads readers to get lost or even lose lives (strictly in the video-game sense of having multiple ones available). Arthur Ténor’s (+++) Escape Book: Madam Mortell’s Haunted House is typical of this type of offering. The idea is that you enter a haunted house, meet various ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night (or the day, for that matter), and eventually solve enough mysteries and puzzles to get out of the place safely. The book relies heavily for its effects on mild, semi-scary language that is not really intended to be taken seriously: “If you ever become Count Dracula’s vampire servant, you can dust his library – FOREVER!” Or: “Any choice could kill you! Mwahahaha!” The reader/protagonist gets a little help now and then from a snake named (what else?) Slither: “Looksss can be dessseiving.” There are five “H” sections at the book’s end to help with the keeping of lists of found objects, assist in number combinations, and so on. There is a map showing locations within the house, most identified by multiples of 10 (that is, 20, 30, 40, and so on) but a few with different numbers (34, 73, 74). There are chapters with such titles as “The Tomb Puzzle” and “The Monsters’ Ballroom,” and there are simple word scrambles (“tempy” for “empty,” “idols” for “solid,” and so forth) and many silly names (Al Phantome, Zany Spazzombie, etc.). The idea is to interact with various characters, pick up various objects and bits of information, put things together according to various rules, and eventually escape from the haunted house. When described that way, the book does indeed sound a lot like a video game – minus the video, audio, screen-based interactivity, pad or keyboard controls, and so on. It is best seen as a mildly amusing foray into sort-of-video-game-ish tale-telling – short, easy to follow, and thoroughly nonthreatening.

     Another approach for video-game-oriented books to take is an explanatory one, an example being the (+++) Fall Guys: The Unofficial Guide to Staying on Top by Stéphane Pilet. A sticker-like circle on the front cover notes that the book offers “Tips & Tricks to Stumble Your Way to Glory,” and that is a pretty fair description – provided that a reader not only knows the Fall Guys game but also is devoted to it. Although this is an unofficial guide, not produced or endorsed by anyone actually involved in creating or managing the game, it is written by someone who understands the game well and has presumably spent considerable time playing it. It is a short book, only 86 pages, but packed with information on the Fall Guys characters, maps, obstacles, mini-games and more. The book opens with a brief description of the game, which involves maneuvering 60 beans through five rounds that include solo races, team activities, and survival-mode events. The game gets its title from the fact that the beans often fall and thus are eliminated from competition, and the book explains how and why that happens and how to (try to) prevent it. The advice makes sense only if you are familiar with the game’s setup: “Try to be as perpendicular as you can to the edge of the platform you’re jumping off or on.” The behavior recommendations likewise depend on understanding the mechanics (actually electronics) of the game’s workings: “As long as you both hold the grab button, you can’t shove one another. Whoever lets go first will be pushed.” Most of the book describes specific elements of Fall Guys and how to negotiate them. Regarding “Door Dash,” for example, “you have to go through a series of doors to get to the finish line. It’s easy – except that the course narrows after each door, and most of them are actually walls you can’t go through!” Understanding game terminology is also a must for making sense of this book and finding it useful: “If there’s a yeetus, you can use it to propel yourself to the front of the group,” and “teams have to hold pegwins for as long as possible.” Each element of the game is categorized (“race,” “hunt,” “team”), and the book gives the basics of what each game portion includes and how to do a better job of conquering it (which means different things at different points in the game). Fall Guys players will find plenty of tips and recommendations in this little guidebook, although much of what the book says is obvious to anyone who plays the game: “The pendulums can make things confusing, and it’s easy for your enemies to corner you.” The book is strictly for kids who are already committed to and intrigued by Fall Guys, and it makes no attempt to interest non-players in trying the game. It certainly does not take the place of actual game play, but it may make Fall Guys more fun for some enthusiasts who are looking for a bit of help, here and there, in negotiating the game’s ups and (many) downs.