Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner

Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner

Priscilla Gorilla by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Michael Emberley (9781481458979, Amazon)

The bestselling duo behind the Miss Brooks books returns with a new book. Priscilla loves gorillas, mostly because they get to do whatever they want. She acts like them and dances like them. She loves to wear her gorilla costume all the time, particularly at school. But because she acts like a gorilla, her teacher puts her in the Thinking Corner sometimes. As Priscilla starts to be seen as a troublemaker, other children join her in the Thinking Corner in their own costumes. But perhaps it’s not being really gorilla-like to be so troublesome, since gorillas are also known for cooperating together. Can Priscilla figure out how to be true to her own inner gorilla even if it means cooperating?

Bottner has such a way with capturing the spirit of childhood on the page. Priscilla speaks for all children as she struggles to navigate the lines between being troublesome, being an individual, and cooperating with others. Bottner writes in an engaging way, allowing the story to unwind at a natural pace that keeps readers caught up in the story. The book ends with Priscilla’s class visiting the zoo and the book beautifully comes full circle as cooperation merges with gorilla dancing.

Emberley’s illustrations are superb. He depicts all of the children in their animal costumes with a wry sense of humor, plushness, bent tails and wrinkles. One wants to crawl into a costume and join the fun. The depiction of Priscilla’s parents and teacher are also cleverly done, showing parents who are allowing their daughter to figure things out but also giving a gentle gorilla nudge in the right direction.

Funny and smart, I’m bananas about this picture book. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum.