Argus: A Celebration of Being Different


Argus by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Andrea Wesson

When her class at school does a science project with eggs, Sally’s egg looks very different from the regular white chicken eggs.  Hers is much larger and polka-dotted.  When the others eggs hatch, the fluffy yellow chicks emerge.  When Sally’s egg hatches, out comes something scaly and green.  Argus is completely different from the other chicks.  He doesn’t eat seeds, instead he’s rather eat the other chicks.  Perhaps even the students!  Sally finds herself longing for a yellow, fluffy, normal chick of her own.  But when Argus disappears, she realizes that he has become very special to her and that his own unique qualities are what make him himself.

Knudsen has created a picture book that is very funny.  She plays up the humor of a dragon emerging from an egg in a classroom.  I also enjoyed the role of the teacher, Mrs. Henshaw, who takes all of the differences and surprises in stride, managing all of the situations without getting flustered.  It is as matter-of-fact a book about a dragon as you are likely to find, which is a large part of its charm.

Wesson’s illustrations have a light touch and lots of details.  The yellow chicks are roly poly and jolly.  Argus is not.  Yet children will never be afraid of Argus because he wears a smile and has friendly yellow eyes.  Another touch from Wesson are the graphs and measurements that the class makes of their “chicks.”  Argus definitely does not conform.

A funny, wry book about differences and acceptance, this book will be welcome in libraries and classrooms as a way to discuss difficult subjects with humor.  Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from library copy.

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