Don’t Feed the Coos! by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox (9781250303189)
The team behind Llama Destroys the World return with a book that’s for the birds. The book cleverly begins with the tone of Give a Mouse a Cookie but quickly turns it into a cautionary tale about feeding “coos” or pigeons. If you do feed one coo, more will come. You may try to escape, but they will follow you all the way home. No matter what you do, they will still stay with you. And because you have fed the coos, they will make coo poos. Everywhere. You will try everything to get rid of them and nothing will work. So you will accept your fate and make them part of the family. Until one day, you return with them to the park…
There is something so just right about the style of Stutzman’s writing. His tongue-in-cheek is clear but he also clearly cares about writing a superb picture book for children at the same time. That balance is not an easy one to create and sustain. Here, he pays homage to a favorite picture book style, yet also plays with it enough to break it just enough to make it fresh and interesting again.
Fox’s illustrations are bold and graphic. They use white space strategically, playing up the humor of an existence filled with pigeons and how that will change everything. The coos are adorable, until the pooing starts.
A clever and funny delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt & Co.
My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (9781534427228)
A little girl talks about her new friend, who just might also be her best friend too. The two of them play together at the park, quacking like ducks, running around, and even siting quietly. Her friend knows how to turn leaves into skeleton hands and fix flowers that have been stepped on, kind of. The two draw together, and the little girl realizes they might just be best friends. They hide together during hide and seek, trying to muffle their giggles. When the little girl pretends to be a pickle, her friend laughed and laughed. They may like different kinds of ice cream, but they can still be best friends. Perhaps tomorrow they can learn each other’s names!
Fogliano perfectly captures the wonder of meeting a kindred spirit as a child and spending an entire day together laughing and playing. Her writing shows all of their shared activities and how they help the two girls bond closely together, despite just having met. Silly things like pretending to be a pickle serve to prove they have the same sense of humor, so that taste in ice cream flavors can be ignored. The ending of the book is clever and sets just the right moment, showing deep understanding of children.
Tamaki’s illustrations are marvelous. She shows the two girls playing and laughing together. They are done in a modern limited color palette of pinks, greens and browns that show the girls in fine-lined detail with very expressive faces. It’s like getting to play along with them yourself.
A warm look at first friendships. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.