A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.
I was utterly charmed by this book. It has a gentle humor, a sweetness and an inherent loveliness that really makes it special.
Amos McGee got up early every morning, changed into his uniform, and headed to work at the City Zoo. Even though he had a busy work schedule, he always had time to visit his friends. He played chess with the elephant, ran races with the tortoise, sat quietly with the shy penguin, wiped the rhino’s runny nose, and read books to the owl who was afraid of the dark. But one morning, Amos woke up and didn’t feel well enough to go to the zoo. His friends waited for him, but when Amos didn’t come they set out to visit him instead. The elephant played chess with him. The turtle played hide and seek instead of running races. The penguin kept Amos’ feet warm. The rhino always had a handkerchief ready when Amos sneezed. And at bedtime, the owl read them all a book.
The husband and wife team who created this book really worked well together. Philip’s tone of writing has a gentle feel that matches his wife’s art perfectly. Philip’s writing is very readable and works well aloud. The small touches of detail make the world more convincing, including the elephant taking a lot of time to make his move in chess and the spoonfuls of sugar Amos uses at breakfast. It is these little facts that really invite one to linger longer in the book.
Erin’s art is delightfully realistic for such a fantastical story. The animals are very true to life except for their hobbies. Her art uses delicate lines and subtle colors. I especially enjoyed Erin’s two-page wordless spreads as the animals head to Amos’ home. Again with her art, the small touches add so much: the elephant lining up his chess pieces while waiting for Amos and the socks on the feet of the penguin. Small details but very important to the tone and feel of the book.
Highly recommended, this book will be embraced by all who read it. Share it for units on zoos, colds or save it for a great bedtime read. Now all I need to find is a shy penguin to keep my feet warm…
Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.
Also reviewed by The Reading Tub.