One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small
Elliot was a very proper boy, dressed in his tuxedo and bow tie. When his father asked if he wanted to go to the aquarium one day, he went along despite worries about loud kids. When they got to the aquarium, his father sat down to read and sent Elliot off to have some fun. Elliot went past the jellyfish, the saltwater display, and the hands-on tide pool and discovered the penguins! He immediately connected with the birds and then asked his father if he could have one. His father glanced at a poster for plush penguins and agreed. But Elliot did not have a plush penguin in mind. Instead, he brought home a real penguin. Once back home, Elliot wasted no time in creating a perfect penguin habitat. But after days of happy living, what in the world would his father say when he discovered the penguin?
This book has its own wonderful feel. From the dapper lad in the lead role to his couch-loving, slow-moving father, it has the feel of a classic book but also one that is delightfully modern as well. Buzzeo’s writing is fresh and funny, creating a book that is both inviting and compelling. It also has great twists throughout where you never know what will happen next. In other words, it’s a stellar read.
Small’s art is what provides a large part of the feel of the book. His tuxedo wearing kid, the splash of green that is the father, and the busts of other colors throughout. The use of primarily blacks and whites to tell the story pays homage to its subject and also gives it the marvelous stylized feel that works so well.
The great librarian character at one point doesn’t hurt the book one smidge either! This is a dapper, dazzling read that is creative, funny and a delight. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.